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Omaha Steve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-24-07 03:02 PM
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Starbucks Defending Charges of Labor Law Violations

Starbucks Defending Charges of Labor Law Violations
Industrial Workers of the World Local 660 Targeting Manhattan Starbucks

Starbucks (NASDAQ: SBUX) is defending itself with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against a series of charges leveled by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) - also known as the "Wobblies" - that the coffee company is unlawfully interfering with their workers' right to organize.
The NLRB accepted 30 charges against Starbucks on March 30 to which the IWW added a new charge on June 9.

The most recent charge involves a former barista - or coffee preparer - who was terminated in November, and allegedly for her union activity. The NLRB complaint specifies Isis Saenz, an employee at the 145 Second Avenue Starbucks in New York, was terminated because she "supported and assisted the Union, and engaged in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining." According to Sewell Chan, on the New York Times website, the IWW asserts Ms. Saenz was terminated after participating in a public protest where the company chairman was attending a book release event.

A Starbucks spokesperson is quoted by Mr. Chan as describing the charges as coming from disgruntled, former employees and as baseless.

The other charges contained in the consolidated complaint allege a pattern of anti-union behavior by Starbucks managers because the affected employees supported the union: selectively enforcing workplace rules on body piercing and clothing, evaluating employees negatively and terminating them on the basis of those evaluations, prohibiting employees from discussing work conditions with other employees while at work, and implementing rules on wearing pro-union buttons at work.

While Starbucks has settled NLRB charges in the past - according to a January 4, 2007 Seattle Times article, the company has paid $165,000 to settle charges without admitting wrongdoing - The IWW was not involved in those complaints. According to an article by Steven Greenhouse, Starbucks agreed to another settlement with the NLRB to rehire two workers and pay several others to settle similar charges by the IWW.

Specifically, the IWW attempted to organize in the Manhattan area in 2004, but withdrew it's petition with the NLRB and the election was cancelled. The union filed charges related to this petition and other incidents with the board. According to the Starbucks investor website, that settlement provided for offers to rehire two former employees; post a notice in the three affected stores affirming employee rights under the National Labor Relations Act; and other terms. The settlement provides for payments to some of the affected partners totaling less than $2,000.00.

A search of the NLRB website finds no mention of the complaint.

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