Starbucks Violated Labor Laws, Says NLRB


Minneapolis, MN—The National Labor Relations Board has recently determined that coffee giant Starbucks has violated labor laws in some stores in the Minneapolis area.

Starbucks worker Erik Forman filed 16 charges against the company on behalf of members of the Starbucks Workers Union. Forman, who works at the Mall of America coffee shop, claimed that the company prohibited workers from discussion the union or union activities within stores, prohibited posting of union materials on site, and that managers and others called security in attempts to quell non-violent union activities.

Forman, who was fired from his Starbucks job in July, was reinstated the next month and paid $2,000 in back pay. “We’ve been bearing the brunt of their union-busting since the day we went public and before,” he said in a statement after the ruling was made.

The NLRB’s Minneapolis office is attempting to negotiate a settlement with the coffee company. Said the regional director, Robert Chester, “I would hope that we’ll know something no later than two weeks.”

The Starbucks Workers Union is affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World.

Many complaints have been filed against Starbucks, both in the midwest and across the nation, for similar violations against unionized workers. Last year, an East Grand Rapids, MI worker was allegedly fired for supporting unionization efforts, and two years ago the New York office of the NLRB accused the company of 30 counts of labor-law violations.

Starbucks, which was once touted as an industry giant, has recently seen its profits drop. First quarter profits were down 77 percent from a year ago, and the company has closed 600 stores in 12 months. It plans to close over 300 more in the coming months.

A new advertising campaign, meant to counteract competitor’s efforts to grab a share of the coffee market with lower-priced beverages, also reinforces Starbucks’ image as a fair-trade, politically progressive and environmentally friendly company.

“This idea of social responsibility has been a major part of their image since the company was started,” says Forman. “Unfortunately we’ve found it’s more image than reality. It would be nice if they


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