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Starbucks Workers Union

Starbucks Workers United members and supporters—including Socialist Alternative Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant (front, right) protest at a January 25, 2022 rally in support of unionization in Seattle. (Photo: Starbucks Workers United/Twitter)

NLRB Complaint Accuses Starbucks of Retaliating Against Union Leaders

The federal agency said the company "has been interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees" seeking to unionize in Arizona.

Brett Wilkins

The National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday filed a complaint on behalf of Starbucks Workers United—a labor group helping employees at nearly 140  U.S. Starbucks stores to unionize—alleging the coffee giant retaliated and discriminated against union leaders in Phoenix, Arizona.

According to Bloomberg, the Phoenix NLRB regional director formally accused Starbucks of illegally surveilling and retaliating against workers seeking to unionize.

The federal agency said the company "has been interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees."

Starbucks Workers United this week also filed charges with the NLRB accusing Starbucks of slashing worker hours in a deliberate union-busting bid.

"These hours cuts are in swift response to workplace organizing campaigns at Starbucks stores around the country," the union said, according to More Perfect Union.

"The reduction of hours has resulted in lost pay; has rendered, or will soon render, employees ineligible for benefits that have hours-worked eligibility requirements, including healthcare coverage and the Starbucks College Achievement Plan (tuition coverage); and has or will soon result in the constructive discharge of Starbucks employees," the complaint—which alleges that the shift cuts are occurring in at least 20 states—says.

"In the eight years I've worked for Starbucks, I've never seen the company slash hours this severely or this widely," Sarah Pappin, a Starbucks shift supervisor in Seattle, told More Perfect Union. "While it's true we trim hours in January and February, I've never [seen] us cut hours like this in March when our business is already ramping up for the season."

"Many of my coworkers have no idea how they're going to pay rent for April," Pappin added. "Some of my core that were previously getting scheduled 20-plus hours a week are being scheduled less than 10 now."

Joseph Thompson, a barista at a Santa Cruz, California Starbucks, said in a statement that "as a full-time, low-income college student, I rely on at least 20 hours a week for benefits and paying bills. Living paycheck to paycheck is already hard, but now that Starbucks is cutting hours across the board and targeting union leaders, [it] just further emphasizes the need for a union."

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