Mar 22, 2023
Starbucks Gets an Ally in Its Union Fight as House Republicans Probe Labor Board
(Bloomberg) -- House Republicans subpoenaed documents from the National Labor Relations Board as part of an investigation into allegations that agency officials engaged in misconduct during a union election at a Kansas Starbucks Corp. store.
Representative Virginia Foxx, chair of the Committee on Education and the Workforce, also demanded documents on misconduct in other representation and unfair labor practice cases.
Foxx cited an August Starbucks letter to the NLRB alleging that board officials colluded with a union organizing at the company, as well as a Feb. 24 NLRB Hearing Officer report that partially confirmed the company’s allegations.
A Starbucks spokesman said the company is pleased to learn of the development.
The NLRB hearing officer report found merit to certain objections made by Starbucks over the representation election at a store in Overland Park, Kansas.
The hearing officer found that communications between NLRB and Workers United regarding election details were greater than the agency’s communication with Starbucks. The report said the disparity “casts doubt as to the fairness of the conduct of this election,” and the hearing officer recommended that a new election be held.
The NLRB subpoena comes weeks after Starbucks’s former interim Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz agreed to testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee on March 29 after a subpoena threat. Laxman Narasimhan has assumed the role of chief executive officer on Monday, two weeks earlier than planned.
Senator Bernie Sanders, chair of the committee, had been seeking testimony from Schultz on allegations that Starbucks used illegal tactics to thwart unionization efforts.
NLRB prosecutors have issued complaints accusing Starbucks of illegal anti-union tactics including threats, store shutdowns, and terminations of about 50 activists. Federal judges have ordered the company to reinstate some of those fired employees. A group of white-collar Starbucks employees and managers recently released an open letter condemning the alleged union-busting, increasing the pressure on executives.
Starbucks has said repeatedly that all claims of anti-union activity there are “categorically false.”
--With assistance from Leslie Patton and Diego Areas Munhoz.
(Updates with details starting in the first paragraph.)
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