BUFFALO, NY (AP) – Federal labor officials filed a large-scale complaint Friday accusing Starbucks of unfair work practices at its Buffalo stores in New York City, including revenge against union-friendly employees.
The regional director of the Buffalo National Labor Relations Committee described a number of violations of labor law in his application for re-employment and compensation.
There was a wave of union drives in Starbucks stores across the country, and the first union votes came in December at three Buffalo stores.
The coffee chain called the allegations “fake” and vowed to fight them at an upcoming hearing.
“Starbucks does not agree that the claims are substantiated, and issuing a complaint does not constitute a finding of the NLRB,” spokeswoman Reggie Borges said in an email. “This is the beginning of a lawsuit that allows both sides to be heard and evidence presented.”
Starbucks Workers United, the group behind the union’s efforts, said the complaint “confirms the extent and depravity of Starbucks’ conduct in western New York for most of the year.”
“Starbucks is finally responsible for the rage unions that started it,” Danny Rojas, a fired shift supervisor, said in a statement. “Starbucks needs to understand that it is morally corrupt to take revenge on union leaders, and I look forward to the NLRB forcing Starbucks to fix this moment.”
Last month, federal labor officials asked a judge to force Starbucks to re-hire three union activists at its Phoenix location, claiming the coffee giant was involved in dishonest work practices.
As of this week, workers in more than 250 U.S. stores have filed a petition with the Labor Committee to hold union elections, labor organizers say. At least 50 of these stores voted to merge with Workers United, a subsidiary of the International Service Workers Union.
Starbucks reported on Tuesday that its sales rose to record levels in the second fiscal quarter, but noted that it is facing higher employment costs, which are expected to rise even higher in the coming months as the company introduces new wage increases and other benefits.
However, workers who voted for unionization or shops that have petitioned to hold union elections will not be eligible for these additional wage and benefit increases.
Starbucks Workers United said it filed a lawsuit against Starbucks with the Labor Committee on Tuesday. The group claims that the company is violating labor laws by threatening to exclude union shops from receiving new benefits.
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