Starbucks protest

People hold signs while protesting in front of Starbucks on April 14, 2022 in New York City. (Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Former Starbucks Manager Tells NLRB He Was Ordered to Punish Pro-Union Workers

"We immensely appreciate David Almond's bravery for speaking out," said Starbucks Workers United, the union formed by employees from across the country.

A former manager of several Starbucks stores in Buffalo, New York told the National Labor Relations Board that corporate representatives ordered him to retaliate against workers who supported unionization efforts, according to new reporting.

David Almond, who until January managed several stores in the Buffalo area--where the pro-labor push among Starbucks workers across the U.S. began in 2021--told the NLRB in sworn testimony in August that the company had provided him with a list of pro-union employees and told him to find reasons to reprimand or penalize them.

"Corporate is hoping that store managers will relinquish all agency to wage war with their partners, but David decided to be brave and stand up for partners everywhere."

According to a transcript of Almond's testimony, which Bloomberg obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, the company pushed back when Almond told higher-ups that a particular person on the list was an exemplary employee and there was nothing for which he could reprimand her.

A corporate employee told Almond to "go through her files," he told the NLRB, and also said to him, "I'm sure there's something in there we can use against her."

The list provided to Almond included workers that the company had determined supported the unionization campaign which has now spread from Buffalo to 330 stores in 38 states, with 248 stores so far voting in favor of joining a union.

The company asked him to follow one worker who had been seen holding a pro-union sign and told him to make sure a manager was present in his stores at all times to discourage employees from talking about the campaign.

A spokesperson for the company denied Almond's allegations in a statement emailed to Bloomberg.

Starbucks has been accused of illegally retaliating against pro-union workers by the NLRB, and Starbucks Workers United, the independent union formed by employees, has filed complaints with the board alleging that the company unlawfully fired more than 80 union supporters.

In August, a federal judge ordered the company to hire back seven workers who had been illegally fired from a store in Memphis. CEO Howard Schultz has drawn condemnation from labor rights supporters for holding meetings where he has pushed workers to reject the union and for attacking pro-union workers in the press.

Almond said the company's anti-union activities led him to resign from his position earlier this year, telling the NLRB he felt he was being pressured to break labor laws.

"I didn't want to do illegal stuff," he said in his testimony. "I've worked my entire life to build up a career of integrity, and I was not going to allow Starbucks to take that from me."

Starbucks Workers United applauded Almond for speaking out against the company.

"Corporate is hoping that store managers will relinquish all agency to wage war with their partners, but David decided to be brave and stand up for partners everywhere," said Maggie Carter, a barista and organizer based in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Join the Movement: Become Part of the Solution Today

We're optimists who believe in the power of informed and engaged citizens to ignite and enact change to make the world a better place.

We're hundreds of thousands strong, but every single supporter counts.

Your contribution supports this new media model—free, independent, and dedicated to uncovering the truth. Stand with us in the fight for social justice, human rights, and equality. As a people-powered nonprofit news outlet, we cover the issues the corporate media never will. Join with us today!

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.