Judge says Starbucks committed ‘egregious and widespread’ labor violations fighting unions

Starbucks committed “egregious and widespread” violations of federal law in its campaign to halt unions, a federal administrative judge ruled Wednesday, ordering the company to give back pay and damages to workers who launched national organizing efforts.

The decision from Judge Michael A. Rosas, an administrative law judge at the National Labor Relations Board, comes as the coffee giant faces growing unionization efforts at its stores nationwide. The company’s efforts to squash them has put it in the crosshairs of progressive lawmakers.

The more than 200-page ruling from Rosas concluded that Starbucks showed “a general disregard for the employees’ fundamental rights,” resolving a case that included 33 labor complaints from 21 New York Starbucks locations. Rosas also ordered the company to post a “Notice to Employees” at all of its facilities in the U.S. notifying workers that “the National Labor Relations Board has found that we violated Federal labor law.”

Rosas further ordered that the company reopen a Buffalo, N.Y., area store and reinstate a number of workers who the board concluded were fired for their union activities.

Additionally, he ordered Starbucks to cease and desist from a number of unlawful actions, including promising employees increased benefits if they did not join a union, engaging in surveillance by photographing employees wearing union pins and prohibiting employees from talking about their wages.

“We believe the decision and the remedies ordered are inappropriate given the record in this matter and are considering all options to obtain further legal review,” a spokesperson for Starbucks said in a statement.

Starbucks, which currently has 281 unionized locations, according to Union Election Data, has been a target of progressive frustration for years. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is seeking a public showdown with the company’s CEO Howard Schultz, who declined the left-wing lawmaker’s invitation to testify in front of a Senate panel last month.

Sanders said on Wednesday that he was planning to hold a vote on his Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which he chairs, to secure a subpoena for Schultz’s testimony. 

Tags Bernie Sanders National Labor Relations Board starbucks Starbucks unions

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