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Starbucks Ordered To Reopen 23 Stores

Like its alleged intimidation tactics and firing of workers who have led unionization efforts, Starbucks' closure of at least 23 stores amid a nationwide workers' rights push last year did not go unnoticed by federal regulators, who ordered the global coffee chain to reopen the locations on Wednesday. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint saying that eight of the shuttered stores were among the more than 360 Starbucks locations that have voted to unionize, and that executives did not notify the union, Starbucks Workers United, about the closures ahead of time—robbing organizers of an opportunity to bargain over the decision.

Does Your Employer Have Illegal Rules On The Books?

On August 2, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), now controlled by Democratic appointees, issued a game-changing decision known as Stericycle. The ruling enables unions to effectively challenge company rules that intimidate or chill workers from engaging in protests, picketing, demonstrations, and other legitimate union activities. Marvin Kaplan, the one dissenting Republican board member, bitterly complained that the new standard returns the board to “a bygone era... when the Board rarely saw a rule it did not find unlawful." Stericycle, a Pennsylvania medical waste disposal company whose employees are represented by Teamsters Local 628, maintained handbook policies governing personal conduct, conflicts of interest, and confidentiality.

Labor Board Judge Blasts Warrior Met In Dispute With Mine Workers

A National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge has strongly blasted the Warrior Met coal company in its long-running dispute over a new contract with the United Mine Workers—a dispute which led bosses to lock out the firm’s 1,100 miners for more than a year and a half. The judge formally ruled the firm’s unfair labor practices provoked the conflict. In an 88-page ruling, ALJ Melissa Olivero came down particularly hard on company officials for claiming they couldn’t afford the union’s demands for raises in each year of a new contract, and the union’s tries at reclaiming the givebacks the workers had to yield to keep the firm going when it was the old, and bankrupt, Jim Walter mine.

Starbucks Agrees To Settlement For Violating Workers Rights In Seattle

Starbucks agreed to a settlement with the NLRB and Starbucks Workers United that will compensate nearly a dozen unionized employees in Seattle who were illegally discriminated against throughout the fall of 2022. In August, managers called for volunteers to work at a mobile Starbucks bar the company operates at Husky Stadium during University of Washington football games. The opportunity was advertised in a Facebook post the responsibilities and promised an extra $3-an-hour in base pay and perks that included food, drinks, and free parking. The ad, posted in a group for Seattle-area baristas with over 1300 members, contained one caveat: “This is only open to non union partners at this moment.”

Supreme Court Weakened Legal Protections For Striking

In a shameful decision last week, eight members of the U.S. Supreme Court weakened the right to strike. Only Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson stood up for the workers. In her 27-page dissent in Glacier Northwest, Inc. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Jackson wrote, “The right to strike is fundamental to American labor law.” Indeed, it is the threat of a strike that gives workers leverage during contract negotiations with an employer. Jackson continued: Workers are not indentured servants, bound to continue laboring until any planned work stoppage would be as painless as possible for their masters. They are employees whose collective and peaceful decision to withhold their labor is protected by the [National Labor Relations Act] even if economic injury results.

Biden Labor Board Restores Right To Use Heated Language

In a landmark May Day ruling called Lion Elastomers, the National Labor Relations Board restored the rights of union representatives to use heated language, including occasional profanity, during arguments with management. The Board ordered employer Lion Elastomers to reinstate steward Joseph Colone with full back pay going back to a 2018 discharge. The ruling reversed the Trump era’s infamous General Motors decision, which had upended 70 years of precedent protecting workers’ rights to use strong language when pressing union points during grievance discussions and other meetings.

US Labor Agency Rejects Starbucks’ Effort To Obtain Records Of Worker Communications With Media

A judge for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined it was unlawful for Starbucks to request records of communications between unionized workers and news media organizations. The decision [PDF] reversed a prior ruling from a United States court, which upheld subpoenas issued to 21 workers that were sought by Starbucks to help the corporation defend against allegations that they engaged in unfair labor practices against Starbucks Workers United. Under the National Labor Relations Act, workers are guaranteed a right to form a union. They are also supposed to be protected from interference, restraint, or coercion by an employer that may be intended to prevent them from unionizing.

Union Kitchen Workers Win Back Pay In Labor Settlement

Union organizers at Union Kitchen locations in the D.C. region have settled a dispute with the food accelerator and retailer, which officials said had engaged in union-busting tactics outlined in an extensive complaint last fall. The National Labor Relations Board settlement agreement requires the restaurant to pay nearly $25,000 in backpay and frontpay to five workers who were fired or faced discipline, apparently in retaliation for their participation in the union drive. The payments include interest, expenses, and relief from economic harm and adverse tax consequences to some of the named workers.

Fear And Loathing Among The Union Busters

“Comrades,” said Chappell Phillips, as he grabbed the microphone, “please do not leave the conference. It’s all better from here.” Phillips, an executive at the buffet restaurant chain Golden Corral, stood at a podium in the front of a hotel ballroom in Atlanta, before some one hundred restaurant executives and managers and union avoidance lawyers mingling and sipping weak coffee. Minutes earlier, the government’s top labor watchdog had been standing at the same podium delivering the keynote speech here at the October 2022 summit of the Restaurant Law Center, the legal arm of the National Restaurant Association. Lobbying groups often invite government officials to their conferences to curry favor or gain insight into regulatory developments. But America’s chief enforcer of federal labor law at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) had not stuck to the proverbial script.

Amazon Labor Union Wins Again At National Labor Relations Board

“The ALU is officially a certified UNION! This is a HUGE moment for the labor movement! Solidarity everyone! Let’s continue to fight for what we deserve!” This jubilant statement was tweeted out Jan. 11 by the Amazon Labor Union after the National Labor Relations Board officially named it the sole bargaining representative for workers at Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse. The NLRB issued its ruling over nine months after the ALU won a representation election by a wide margin at the Staten Island, New York, facility. Rejecting all 25 of Amazon’s objections to the election results, the Board gave Amazon until Jan. 25 to file a “request for review.” Once the ALU won the election April 1, 2022, Amazon could have immediately begun negotiations with the union for a first contract. Instead the union-busting behemoth chose to delay its obligations by filing spurious charges, alleging election misconduct against the ALU and the NLRB.

Inside The Supreme Court Case That Could Chill A Strike Wave

The Supreme Court is about to consider whether employers can sue unions for perishable goods lost during a strike by claiming they’re intentional property damage. On Jan. 10, the Court will hear oral arguments in Glacier Northwest v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 174, in which a Seattle concrete company is seeking to overturn a Washington Supreme Court decision dismissing its suit against Local 174 for the costs of several truckloads it had to throw out after drivers walked out in 2017. The state court held that Glacier had to wait until the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB] ruled on whether the damage was “incidental” to strike conduct protected under the federal National Labor Relations Act.

Military Budget Hike For 2023 Is 3,200 Times The NLRB Increase

Draft text of the congressional omnibus spending bill released this week reveals a proposed $25 million increase in funding to the National Labor Relations Board, which would bring the agency’s 2023 federal fiscal year budget to $299 million. Its funding has otherwise been frozen at $274 million for the past nine years; when inflation is taken into account, this effectively amounts to a budget decrease of 25% since 2014, according to calculations cited in an NLRB news release. The proposed hike is well below what leaders from unions like Communications Workers of America and Unite Here have been calling for, and falls short of the (already meager) $319 million President Joe Biden requested. Any failure to robustly fund the NLRB hurts workers’ attempts to win formal union recognition and protect their basic rights, a key reason why anti-union lawmakers have kept the NLRB’s budget slim.

DC’S Union Kitchen Slapped With 26 Counts Of Labor Law Violation

Washington D.C. - The National Labor Relations Board has determined that Union Kitchen violated several labor laws and engaged in union-busting tactics as workers sought to unionize earlier this year, and that management continued to do so throughout the bargaining process, after workers succeeded in formalizing their unit this summer. According to an NLRB complaint reviewed by DCist/WAMU, management at the food retailer wrongfully terminated several employees, interrogated workers about their union activity, hosted mandatory “captive audience” meetings where workers were encouraged to reject organizing efforts, and tried to offer special benefits if workers distanced themselves from the union drive.

How To Win NLRB Cases Against Union-Busters

As big brands like Amazon, Starbucks, and Chipotle lash back at worker organizing, union-busting is getting long overdue exposure in the press. But while the stories graphically depict the problem, they don’t offer any solutions. Though many of the common tactics of union-busting are illegal, there are only insignificant penalties that fail to discourage its lucrative practice. This is the only area of law where attorneys can advise clients to commit perjury in federal court without fear of disbarment or even censure. A union leader who understands leverage and human nature, though, can unmask their deception. Union-busting on a plant-wide scale usually takes place under three circumstances: organizing drives, first contract negotiations, and attempts to decertify an existing local.

America Is Breaking The Bargain It Made For Labor Peace

The American labor movement finds itself in a “good news, bad news” situation — which is better than the standard “bad news, bad news” situation, but just as perilous. This week, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that in the past nine months, petitions that workers have filed to unionize with the agency have risen by 56% over the previous year. This is a clear and tangible sign of what public opinion polls have already told us: In the aftermath of the pandemic, with a union-friendly president in the White House, workers are more enthusiastic to form unions than they have been in many years. Organized labor is always pining for a moment of opportunity, and that opportunity is here. Right now. Then there’s the bad news. In the same press release trumpeting the boom in union election filings, NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo made a pointed case that the institution is starved for resources.
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