LABOR Starbucks Ordered To Reopen 23 Stores

COMMON DREAMS, Julia Conley, December 16, 2023 

“This complaint is the latest confirmation of Starbucks’ determination to illegally oppose workers’ organizing,” said one unionized employee.

Like its alleged intimidation tactics and firing of workers who have led unionization efforts, Starbucks’ closure of at least 23 stores amid a nationwide workers’ rights push last year did not go unnoticed by federal regulators, who ordereded the global coffee chain to reopen the locations on Wednesday.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint saying that eight of the shuttered stores were among the more than 360 Starbucks locations that have voted to unionize, and that executives did not notify the union, Starbucks Workers United, about the closures ahead of time—robbing organizers of an opportunity to bargain over the decision.

The agency called on Starbucks to reopen the locations—which are located in cities including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Portland, Maine—and to re-hire fired employees, provide them with lost pay and benefits, and bargain with the unions at stores that have organized.

If the company does not follow the order, an administrative judge will hear the case next summer, The New York Times reported.

The NLRB has issued more than 100 complaints against Starbucks for illegal union-busting, including threatening and retaliating against employees and refusing to bargain over union contracts. An administrative judge ruled in July that Starbucks unlawfully shut down a store in Ithaca, New York, and the company appealed that decision.

The company notified the union last week that it wants to resume contract negotiations after a six-month deadlock.

Also on Wednesday, Starbucks released a report that had been requested by shareholders and completed by independent consultant Thomas Mackall, who analyzed the $111 billion company’s labor practices.

Mackall determined that Starbucks executives who have responded to the nationwide unionization push may have violated the company’s own Global Human Rights Statement, which states that the company will respect employees’ rights to participate in collective bargaining.

The NLRB’s latest action against Starbucks was applauded on Thursday by the AFL-CIO, which said executives at the coffee giant “thought they could mess around” with workers’ rights.