Feb 15, 2023 - Business

Starbucks wrongly fired Philadelphia workers, board says

Illustration of a union protest sign attached to a coffee stirrer in a to-go cup.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Starbucks illegally fired two employees and committed other union-busting practices meant to disrupt labor organizers at two Philadelphia stores, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

Driving the news: The decision, first reported by Bloomberg Law, said employees at stores on the 1000 block of South Broad St. and 3400 Civic Center Blvd. were threatened, surveilled, interrogated and prevented from discussing complaints about work conditions and managers. Employees supportive of the union also complained that their work hours were reduced.

  • A NLRB panel ordered Monday that the fired employees be reinstated with back pay.

Why it matters: Starbucks employees at a store in Buffalo, New York were the first to unionize in December 2021, setting off a wave of organizing efforts nationwide.

  • Since then, more than 275 Starbucks stores, including several in Philly, have followed suit, and the ruling is likely to embolden labor efforts among workers at the coffee chain.

What they’re saying: Starbucks Workers United said in a statement that the coffee giant isn’t upholding the “progressive values” it markets, pointing to dozens of NLRB complaints encompassing thousands of alleged violations.

  • “We are in a retaliation crisis, and Starbucks is the cause,” Aleah Bacetti, a fired union supporter at Maryland’s Bel Air Plaza store, said in a statement. “I hope Starbucks sees that we are not afraid, and we won’t back down.”

The other side: “We disagree with the decision and are considering all options to obtain a full legal review of the matter,” a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement provided to Bloomberg.

What’s next: Starbucks can appeal the decision in federal court.


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