Starbucks illegally withheld wages from union workers, labor board says

Starbucks illegally withheld wages from union workers, labor board says
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The National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint Wednesday alleging that Starbucks illegally withheld the wages and benefits of thousands of unionized baristas.

The complaint comes amid a campaign by the coffee chain and its interim CEO Howard Schultz to end unionization efforts at its stores across the United States. As of the end of 2021, more than 230 locations have voted to join the Starbucks Workers Union, leading to an increase in unionization across the country.

The NLRB has been seeking back pay and benefits for unionized workers since May and is asking Schultz to read a statement of union rights to workers. The board, which is tasked with enforcing labor laws that protect union rights, said Starbucks’ denial of benefits and wages to union workers was intended to discourage union organizing.

However, Starbucks denied this. “We have been clear that we are following NLRB rules when it comes to providing unilateral benefits,” Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges said in an email.

It is mentioned in the company news release Once in place in July, it cannot legally change benefits or wages without bargaining with the union. “Partners may still have access to all Starbucks benefits in place at the time of application, but any changes to wages, benefits and working conditions determined by Starbucks thereafter will not apply to you and will have to be negotiated,” the statement said. he says.

Union activists were excited by the labor council dispute. “This is a historic victory for democracy and the rule of law, and the billionaire CEO should apologize for abusing and violating workers’ rights, as well as generalizing them,” said Richard Bensinger, lead organizer of the Starbucks Workers United campaign.

Starbucks tried to stall the union’s efforts as organizers built momentum. Schultz announced in May that the company would increase pay and double training hours at its more than 10,000 corporate stores. But he said the changes won’t apply to recently unionized stores where workers have filed for union elections, or stores that are in the process of unionizing.

“We don’t have the same freedom to make these improvements where we are unionized or unionized,” Schultz said in an earnings call at the time.

In August, Starbucks employees who had been on the job since May 2 saw their wages increase by up to $15 an hour, or 3 percent. Employees with two to five years of experience received a raise of at least 5 percent or 5 percent above their market starting rate, whichever is greater. Non-union baristas with more than five years of experience received raises of at least 7 percent or 10 percent above the starting rate in their market, whichever was greater.

This year, Schultz said workers who haven’t asked for union benefits will be able to use the chain. restarted the coffee expertise program, known as “Coffee Masters”. Non-merger stores will see new investments in equipment and technology and upgrade options for customers. Additional communications stated that the dress code would be updated to allow more flexibility on piercings and tattoos, but only for non-union workers. According to the labor council, these benefits are charged to unionized workers starting in May.

The company also withheld faster accrual of sick time benefits, career advancement opportunities and expanded credit card advice than union shop workers, the complaint alleges.

The labor board says that not extending these benefits and wage increases to union workers violates the National Labor Relations Act, which protects workers’ rights to engage in union activities without interference, coercion or retaliation.

“I’m not surprised by Howard Schultz’s comments, but I am surprised by the actions taken by the NLRB,” said Gianna Reeve, a Starbucks barista and union organizer in Buffalo, who was not paid for her work in August. in the combined store.

The labor board is also demanding that Starbucks provide copies of all payroll records, time cards and personnel reports so it can analyze the amount of back pay to be paid to workers. The remedy outlined in the complaint would require the company to send letters of apology to all affected baristas and conduct training for managers and supervisors on workers’ rights and labor laws.

Starbucks can try to solve the problem. Otherwise, an administrative law judge will hold a hearing on the matter on October 1. 25.

The NLRB also challenged the company’s response to the union drive in federal district court. Last week, a federal judge Ordered to restore Starbucks Seven baristas have been fired for unionizing at a Memphis store. Starbucks Workers United said the coffee chain giant has fired more than 75 union leaders since December.

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