The United States labor officials have asked a federal court to order Starbucks Corp. to reinstate several campaigners, deepening the legal fight over the company’s response to the massive union push that has swept through its locations, reports Yahoo Finance.
The National Labor Relations Board’s Phoenix regional director filed a motion on Friday seeking an injunction compelling the coffee company to reinstate three employees who the agency claims were wrongfully dismissed, driven out, or placed on leave.
Workers United, a branch of the Service Employees International Union that is asking the Labor Board to represent employees at hundreds of Starbucks cafés, has filed dozens of complaints against the corporation, most of which are currently pending. Prosecutors for the agency found some of the charges to be true and filed complaints accusing the Seattle-based company of firing activists illegally in Arizona and Tennessee.
Starbucks has stated that it does not agree with the charges made by the labor board.
A partner’s involvement in union representation doesn’t exclude them from the rules that they have put in place to safeguard partners, consumers, and the communities they serve, according to a spokesman in an email issued Saturday. The person further added that they support their partners’ right to organize, but they will also take the appropriate measures to make their stores a friendly and safe environment for all partners and customers.
“Any Charges Of Anti-Union Action Are Absolutely False”, Says Starbucks
According to the NLRB’s complaint, Starbucks retaliated against the three workers because of their union membership and engagement in the agency’s investigations. The agency claimed the company’s actions “have irreparably harmed, and are continuing to harm, employees,” including by fostering “an atmosphere where employees fear retaliation and discharge” on a “regular basis” if they demonstrate support for the union.
Starbucks, in addition to being forced to offer the three employees reinstatement, was also ordered to participate in a video recording of a high-ranking company official reading or listening to the court’s order, and to share that video with its employees across the globe, according to the filing.
Starbucks’ treatment of the Arizona partners is similar to how it treats union sympathizers across the country, according to the union’s organizing committee in an emailed statement.
Companies are prohibited from retaliating against workers who engage in collective action to better their working circumstances, such as union organizing, under US labor law. However, the labor board, that prosecutes any violations of that rule, lacks the jurisdiction to order companies to pay punitive damages, and battles over alleged retaliation firings can drag on for years, delaying organizing efforts even if the employee ultimately triumphs.
Regional offices of the NLRB investigate accusations and if they discover merit in them but are unable to reach an agreement, file complaints with the agency, which are subsequently considered by judges. The judges’ decisions can be appealed to members of the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, and then to federal court. General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, the NLRB’s chief prosecutor, has stated that she intends to “aggressively” seek federal court injunctions to get wrongfully sacked people back to work as soon as possible.
Workers United has won ballot victories in a few dozen Starbucks locations, including those in Colorado and Virginia, where results were released on Friday.