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The National Labor Relations Board alleges Starbucks illegally withheld wages and benefits from thousands of unionized baristas.
The complaint arrives during a campaign by the coffee chain and its interim CEO, Howard Schultz, to tamp down unionization efforts at its stores around the United States.
The NLRB seeks back payments and benefits for unionized workers since May and to require Schultz to read a statement to workers about their union rights, according to the Washington Post.
Exterior of a Starbucks location. (iStock / iStock)
The board said Starbucks’s denial of benefits and raises to union workers was intended to discourage union organizing.
The coffee chain denied that.
"We’ve been clear in that we are following NLRB rules when it comes to unilaterally giving benefits," Reggie Borges, a Starbucks spokesman, wrote in an email.
More than 230 locations have voted to join the Starbucks Workers United union since late 2021.
Starbucks employees and supporters react as votes are read during a union-election watch party. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File / AP Images)
The company stated in a news release in July that legally it cannot change benefits or wages without bargaining with a union once one is in place.
Pro-union pins sit on a table during a watch party for Starbucks’ employees union election in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File / AP Newsroom)
Starbucks can try to settle the case. Otherwise, an administrative law judge will hold a hearing on the matter Oct. 25.
On Tuesday, a labor union for Starbucks employees accused the coffeehouse chain of retaliation against unionization efforts.
Starbucks Workers United said workers at two stores, one on Holman Road in Seattle, Washington, and one at Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, were told Monday of the locations closing.
The union accused the coffeehouse company of "clear retaliation," noting the Seattle and Kansas City locations had both taken steps toward unionization.