The National Labour Relations Board’s region director in Buffalo has asked a federal court to re-instate seven local Starbucks workers who were fired, allegedly due to their union activities.
Linda M Leslie, the NLRB’s Buffalo regional director said in a statement, “We are asking the court to swiftly grant the injunction so that the unlawfully discharged workers can return to work and effectively exercise their right to engage in union activities, including collectively bargain a union contract.”
The court filing comes amid efforts by Starbucks Workers United to organize workers at Starbucks stores around the country, and opposition by the Seattle-based company.
The petition claimed that Starbucks had improperly fired seven union activists at five Buffalo-area stores over the course of six weeks.
Leslie accused the company of launching a “vigorous antiunion campaign.” She alleged Starbucks has used illegal tactics at stores where elections were taking place, including selective raising of wages and promising of benefits and bringing in managers to “monitor and discourage” union activity, along with closing stores with active organizing drives and threatening employees.
Reggie Borges, a Starbucks spokesperson, said of the filing: “As we have said previously, we believe these claims are false and will be prepared to defend our case.”
Borges noted that a judge in Arizona had earlier this month ruled in favor, in spite of being from NLRB. The NLRB regional director there sought the reinstatement of three fired workers. The judge in that case said there was insufficient evidence to support the unfair labor practice charges made by the regional director.
The latest petition calls for a court to put a stop to “antiunion” activities allegedly occurring at Starbucks stores around the country, and to notify Starbucks workers of their rights under federal labor law.
“Absent immediate interim relief, Starbucks will achieve its goal, through unlawful means, of irreparably harming the campaign in Buffalo, and sending a clear chilling message to its employees across the country,” Leslie said.
The petition also calls for Starbucks to bargain a contract with workers at a Starbucks store on Camp Road in Hamburg, claiming that the company interfered with an election held there.
An administrative law judge is scheduled to hold a hearing on July 11 on the complaint.
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