Starbucks is asking the White House for equal time after Biden met with union leaders

Starbucks is asking the White House for equal time after Biden met with union leaders

© Reuters. Disposable coffee cup at Starbucks in London, UK, March 6, 2020. REUTERS / Henry Nicholls

Authors Hilary Russ and David Shepardson

NEW YORK / WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Starbucks Corporation requested a meeting with the administration of US President Joe Biden after union workers spoke with White House officials Thursday, saying in a letter that most of its employees do not want to be union members.

Separately, a National Labor Relations Committee (NLRB) official issued a complaint Friday describing allegations of misconduct by Starbucks (NASDAQ 🙂 toward union members in violation of U.S. labor law. Starbucks said the allegations in the lawsuit were false and unfounded.

In a letter to the White House, dated Thursday and released Friday, Starbucks said he was “deeply concerned” that Workers United, which organizes hundreds of U.S. Starbucks locations, was “invited to the meeting without inviting Starbucks officials.”

The White House declined to comment.

Biden met on Thursday with workers and job organizers who want to represent workers at Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ :), Starbucks and other employers.

Among those present were Christian Smalls, who heads the Amazon workers’ union, and Laura Garza, a Starbucks employee who works at Workers United.

During the meeting, Biden said: “When I ran for president, I pledged to be the most pro-Labor union president in American history,” according to video clips released by the White House on Friday.

Starbucks said in the letter that the lack of its representation “nullifies the reality that most of our partners oppose union membership and union tactics used by Workers United.” The coffee chain calls its baristas and other employees partners.

Workers at more than 50 U.S. Starbucks cafes have decided to join Workers United, while five stores voted against unions, out of a total of about 240 in total that have called for elections since August. Workers United is a subsidiary of the International Union of Civil Servants.

“We have a drastically more positive vision for our partners and our company than Workers United,” Starbucks claims.

Workers United posted on Twitter a statement from Garza who said it was “heartbreaking to read Starbucks’ response”. She said she was honored to represent all Starbucks partners at the meeting, “union or not”.

The complaint, a copy of which was reviewed by Reuters, NLRB’s regional director for Buffalo, New York, cited allegations made by Workers United, including allegations that Starbucks threatened, fired and oversaw union members in the state.

Starbucks’ behavior, as described in the allegations, violates national labor law, according to a complaint from regional director Linda M. Leslie. An NLRB judge will hold a hearing on the allegations on July 11, the complaint added.

Starbucks said in a statement that the complaint involved important issues, but “does not represent an NLRB finding.”

It added: “This is the beginning of a litigation process that allows both parties to hear and present evidence. We believe the allegations contained in the appeal are false and look forward to presenting our evidence when the charges are decided.”



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