Starbucks will rehire workers involved in union activity after a judge ruled they were illegally fired in a “reign of coercion.”
A judge found Starbucks threatened and interrogated employees, limited pay discussions, and sent high-ranking officials to make “repeated and unprecedented visits to stores in order to more closely supervise, monitor, or create the impression that employees’ union activities are under surveillance.”
The coffee giant committed hundreds of violations of federal law at its cafes in Buffalo and Rochester, according to the judge, who said the behavior was “demonstrating a general disregard for the employees’ fundamental rights.”
Owing to its “egregious and widespread misconduct,” the judge ordered Starbucks to recognize a union at its Hamburg, New York, store, despite a previous union loss.
The judge’s decision is the latest in a string of rulings against the coffee company over its aggressive battle against unionization at its stores.
Starbucks is also facing its corporate staff sending an open letter protesting the company’s alleged union-busting.
US Senator Bernie Sanders also said the committee he chairs will vote next week on subpoenaing interim CEO Howard Schultz on the issue.
Starbucks insists its conduct was lawful and consistent with its existing policies.
A statement said: “We believe the decision and the remedies ordered are inappropriate given the record in this matter and are considering all options to obtain further legal review.”
Starbucks has said repeatedly that all claims of anti-union activity there are “categorically false.”
Decisions of NLRB judges can be appealed to labor board members in Washington, and then to the federal appeals court.
What has Starbucks been ordered to do?
In addition to rehiring the six fired employees, the judge ordered Starbucks to reinstate a seventh employee who was wrongfully fired.
It was also ordered to compensate workers whose hours were reduced in response to the union campaign, and to create a video recording of Schultz attending a meeting with employees during which a notice about workers’ rights is read.
In a statement, the union described the ruling as a watershed event.
Barista Michael Sanabria said: “After waiting through months of stalling tactics and the slow wheel of justice to turn, this will reinvigorate and re-energize the momentum of this movement.”
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