BUFFALO, N.Y. — The National Labor Relations Board has issued an official complaint against Starbucks, alleging they have committed hundreds of federal labor law violations in Western New York.
Buffalo's NLRB regional director says the chain has issued retaliatory terminations, closed pro-union stores, and used unlawful threats and intimidation tactics.
The board is now demanding full reinstatement and back pay for at least six workers who were allegedly fired for union organizing.
The Starbucks Workers United Union called Friday's decision a major victory.
"This, today, is the NLRB federal agency that enforces workers rights under the law, saying that the hundreds of allegations made in those complaints are valid and correct, and they are now going to be prosecuting Starbucks for those violations," according to Ian Hayes, attorney for the Starbucks union.
Starbucks responded to the NLRB's complaint to The Associated Press.
“Starbucks does not agree that the claims have merit, and the complaint’s issuance does not constitute a finding by the NLRB,” spokesman Reggie Borges wrote in an email. “It is the beginning of a litigation process that permits both sides to be heard and to present evidence.”
"Starbucks is finally being held accountable for the union-busting rampage they went on,” said Danny Rojas, from the Bailey and Sheridan store, and who is one of the six fired workers cited in the complaint.
On Thursday, employees at the downtown Buffalo location at Delaware Avenue and Chippewa Street went on a one-day strike. That Starbucks is one of the many locations that recently voted to unionize.
On Wednesday, after a series of meetings with workers, the company's CEO announced that $200 million would be used on worker pay and training, but not at the stores that voted to unionize, which led to the one-day strike.
"It is disappointing that Starbucks has refused to work with their partners and instead chose to fire union leaders like myself," Rojas said. "Today, the NLRB is validating that the psychological warfare and intimidation tactics that took place in Starbucks stores was unacceptable.
"Starbucks needs to understand that it is morally corrupt to retaliate against union leaders and I am looking forward to the NLRB forcing Starbucks to make this moment right."
You can read the complaint below: