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NLRB accuses Starbucks of shutting locations to deter labor unions

By Jake Beardslee · December 14, 2023

In brief…

  • NLRB alleges Starbucks closed 23 US stores in 2022 to deter union drives
  • 8 of the 23 stores had already unionized when shut down
  • NLRB wants stores reopened, employees rehired and compensated
  • Over 360 Starbucks stores have unionized out of 9,300 nationwide
A US labor agency claims Starbucks deliberately closed numerous stores amid ongoing unionization efforts and is pursuing legal action to have those stores reopened, workers rehired, and bargaining rights restored.  elliotstoller/Wikimedia

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is alleging that Starbucks closed 23 stores across the US in 2022 in an effort to stymie unionization efforts by Workers United, according to a complaint issued Wednesday. The complaint alleges that Starbucks closed the stores without giving proper notice to Workers United, the union behind the organizing efforts.

The National Labor Relations Board complaint states that 8 of the 23 stores shut down by Starbucks had already successfully voted to form a union at the time they were closed. Starbucks is currently facing over 100 complaints filed with the NLRB accusing the company of illegal anti-union behavior. Starbucks denies these allegations and says that it respects employees’ right to decide if they want union representation, according to Reuters.

According to NLRB spokesperson Matthew Hayward, the complaint alleges that Starbucks closed down the 23 stores with no advance warning given to Workers United, the union organizing the unionization campaign. Additionally, that the company did not provide the union with a chance to negotiate over the store closure decisions.

The NLRB is seeking a court order forcing Starbucks to immediately reopen the 23 stores, rehire the terminated employees, and provide back pay. The company would also have to negotiate with the unions at stores that had voted to organize.

A judge ruled in July that Starbucks had illegally closed a unionized Ithaca, NY store, a decision the company is appealing. Meanwhile, over 360 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize since 2021, out of approximately 9,300 US locations.