The National Labor Relations Board accused Starbucks of retaliating against two Phoenix employees who tried to unionize their store, The Washington Post reports.
Starbucks employees Laila Dalton and Alyssa Sanchez filed a complaint alleging retaliation, threats from the company, and changes to the conditions of employment for those that were engaged in protected “concerted activity.”
The two workers are part of a nationwide campaign to unionize Starbucks stores across the country. Starbucks Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, has filed at least a dozen complaints on behalf of workers for similar retaliation tactics.
If the NLRB prevails, Starbucks could be required to read statements and post physical notices in its stores informing workers of the right to unionize. It may also be required to reimburse Sanchez for hours lost due to alleged retaliation.
The case will get a hearing on June 14.
The NLRB accused two Starbucks managers of suspending Dalton and rejecting Sanchez’s scheduling preferences as a way to discourage them from raising concerns with managers.
The NLRB said that Dalton had repeatedly complained about understaffing, hours, and supervisors’ treatment of workers.
The company responded by giving her a written warning and suspending her, accusing her of taking absences even though they had been approved and taking unauthorized shifts.
The NLRB said the company disciplined workers because they “assisted the Union and engaged in concerted activities, and to discourage employees from engaging in these activities.”
Starbucks pushes back:
Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges suggested that the discipline was unrelated to the union efforts.
“A partner’s interest in a union does not exempt them from the standards we have always held,” Borges told the Post. “We will continue enforcing our policies consistently for all partners and we will follow the NLRB’s process to resolve this complaint.”
The union issued a statement from Scottsdale Starbucks worker Bill Whitmire, who called on the company to apologize to workers that were “discriminated against, lied to, harassed, bullied, and retaliated against” for trying to unionize their store.
“Laila and Alyssa were traumatized and their hope is that no other Partner EVER has to go through what they have gone through,” he said.