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union busting

Get Out The Popcorn, Starbucks’ Howard Schultz Called Before Senate

Starbucks projects the image of an employee-friendly company, but its workers have been exposing the contradiction between the company’s words and its actions. On March 29, they’ll get some help from the U.S. Senate’s HELP Committee, chaired by Bernie Sanders. The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has called Howard Schultz, who recently resigned as Starbucks CEO, to testify before Congress about the company’s union-busting. Schultz is likely to be asked to explain why the company has not negotiated a contract with its union, even though the first store unionized in Buffalo in December 2021. Nearly 300 stores have now unionized with Starbucks Workers United.

Where The Starbucks Union Stands After Rallies, Proposed Audit

Four security guards blocked the entrance to Starbucks headquarters as demonstrators approached Wednesday. Workers peeked out of windows above, watching and filming the crowd. Some ventured out to order lunch from the food trucks in the parking lot and take a closer look. Gwen Williamson, a former shift supervisor for a cafe in Bellingham, addressed the crowd: “We won our election in December and immediately after that, shift supervisor hours were cut, putting our eligibility for Starbucks health education benefits at risk.” Williamson told those who had gathered that she had been unjustly terminated after she led the union charge at her store and called off several shifts at the last minute due to flood damage that left her apartment unlivable.

$340 Million Anti-Labor Consulting Industry Is Behind Union-Busting

The remarkable spikes in union activity over the last few years have given many on the left cause for hope: could we be on the precipice of a resurgent, newly galvanized U.S. labor movement? In the first three quarters of 2022, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) documented a 53 percent increase in organizing petitions — including startling wins by new, independent unions at Starbucks, Amazon, Trader Joe’s, and numerous others, across many sectors. There’s a widespread sense that a qualitative shift has taken place. That said — despite the perceptible increase in agitation — on quantitative measures, the picture is not quite so rosy. Overall union density in fact declined in 2022, to a new low of 10.1 percent. It’s yet to be seen if newly roused energies will translate into sustained, structured power. By some metrics, much of the present organizing wave seems to have been dashed upon the rocks — in no small part thanks to a merciless backlash from the bosses.

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.

How Corporate America Is Hitting Back Against Unions

Workers at a Trader Joe’s store in Louisville, Kentucky, are now pushing to become the third store at the trendy US supermarket chain to unionize since 2022. Connor Hovey, a worker and organizer at the Louisville store, said unionizing efforts began as other high-profile union organizing efforts such as at Louisville’s Heine Brothers, a local coffee shop chain, were taking off. Like those workers, the Trader Joe’s organizers sought to address issues stemming from inadequate corporate policies and safety precautions, and how workers have been treated during the Covid-19 pandemic. But during the organizing drive Hovey claimed opposition from Trader Joe’s management has been intense, resulting in workers filing several unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

‘Red Cup Rebellion’: Workers At 100+ Starbucks Locations Strike

Thousands of unionized Starbucks workers at more than 100 locations across the United States are walking off the job Thursday to protest the coffee giant's refusal to engage in good-faith negotiations with stores that have voted to organize. Workers United, the union representing thousands of Starbucks employees, dubbed the nationwide day of action the "Red Cup Rebellion," a pro-labor counter to Starbucks' annual "Red Cup Day." As Starbucks gives away free reusable cups to customers to mark the holiday season, striking employees nationwide are handing out Starbucks Workers United-branded cups to build public awareness of the union drive and spotlight the company's aggressive and unlawful efforts to crush it.

US Labor Agency Fights Corporate Spying

The top lawyer for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in the United States has come out strongly against workplace surveillance and management technology that may be used to disrupt union organizing and discourage whistleblower complaints. Jennifer Abruzzo, who is general counsel for the NLRB, wrote a memo in October that was sent to officials at the agency’s regional offices. Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, which was passed in 1935, protects the “right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection.”

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.

Kansas Chipotle Workers Latest To Launch Union Drive

Lawrence, Kansas - Employees at a second Chipotle location are unionizing, this time in Lawrence, Kansas. The young workers are forming an independent union, and facing harsh—and likely illegal—pushback from management. A majority of workers’ signatures were collected on a petition to submit to the National Labor Relations Board, only to have that petition thrown away by management. So now they’re filing an unfair labor practice charge as they push to form a union. Quinlan Muller has worked at Chipotle for four years, at three different stores. “The Mass Street location is one of the most difficult stores I’ve worked at. We are understaffed, employees aren’t properly trained, and it’s not, like, the cleanest compared to other Chipotles.”

Workers Speak Out As UPS Continues Retaliation Against Union Activists

New York city, New York - Starting at 8:00 a.m. on September 1, workers and allies began to congregate at the steps of the Metro Queens UPS facility. The rally built on two-days of tabling, where dozens of coworkers posed for solidarity photos and encouraged coworkers to sign a petition defending “all fired activists.” Veterans of the 2014 ‘Maspeth 250’ wildcat strike, a struggle against the unjust firing of union militant Jairo Reyes, were quick to show their solidarity. So far, approximately 150 workers from the two Maspeth UPS buildings signed the petition, with plans in place to get many more signatures.

Companies Are Required To Report Their Union Busting, But Many Don’t

$4.3 million in one year spent on anti-union activities at Amazon. $2,625 a day to stop UPS drivers from fighting for their survival amid heat waves and a lack of air-conditioning in their trucks. Over $1 million spent on the union-busting firm Labor Relations Institute to stop stressed-out truck drivers at concrete distributor Cemex from unionizing. Without the mandatory filings with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) under the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) of 1959, few of us would know about the extent of companies’ union busting or the consultants they engage to lurk in warehouses and on worksites to undermine workers’ union sympathies.

Scenes From A Summer Of Strikes In A South Carolina Starbucks

Since the Starbucks Workers United campaign launched last fall, workers have won union authorization elections at 220 stores, and struck at least 60. The company has retaliated harshly—closing some stores, firing dozens of union leaders, claiming interference by the National Labor Relations Board, and calling for a moratorium on mail-in elections. Starbucks also barred union stores from receiving long-awaited benefits to be implemented August 1, provoking several strikes. Jonah Furman from Labor Notes spoke with Tripathi about the joys of the picket line, Starbucks’ retaliation, and how a store manager got so rattled by a collective action that she accused the workers of kidnapping her.

Urgent Appeal For Unity And Mass Action Against Union Busting

The national wave of union organizing and militancy spearheaded by Starbucks workers and Amazon workers is the biggest upsurge in worker organizing since the 1930s and 1940s. The organizing wave has spread to Trader Joe’s, Chipotle, Apple, REI and a growing list of chain stores and industries. However, this uprising of workers, which holds the potential of not only saving the labor movement, but transforming it, is under life-threatening attack. We must unite in defense of the brave young workers that are the vanguard of this transformative workers struggle. From their corporate boardrooms down to their worksite managers, Starbucks and Amazon are engaged in an outright war to crush the organizing wave. Starbucks is firing union organizers, closing stores, cutting workers hours, and denying pro-union workers wage increases and benefits.

Terminated Chipotle Workers Accuse Company Of Union Busting

Augusta, Maine - Workers who had hoped to form the first union at a Chipotle Mexican Grill believe the company closed their restaurant and terminated their jobs this week, because they were poised to form the first union among the chain’s 3,000 establishments. Chipotle closed its Augusta restaurant on Tuesday after two-thirds of its employees had pledged to form an independent union, Chipotle United, and just two-and-a-half hours before workers were scheduled to meet with the National Labor Relations Board about their union election. "They knew they would lose," Brandi McNease, who worked the Augusta restaurant for more than three years and led the union drive, said in an interview Friday. "I was just so angry. No. We had a fair fight going. We were doing things the right way, and you just took your bat and ball and went home?
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