Feds accuse Starbucks of unfair labor practices in Buffalo

Federal labor officials accuse Starbucks of unfair labor practices at its stores in Buffalo, New York, including retaliation against pro-union employees.

BUFFALO, NY — Federal labor officials filed a wide-ranging complaint Friday accusing Starbucks of unfair labor practices at its stores in Buffalo, New York, including retaliation against pro-union employees.

The Buffalo regional director of the National Labor Relations Board outlined a series of labor law violations in a filing seeking reinstatement and back pay for employees.

There has been a wave of unionization drives at Starbucks stores across the country, with the first union votes in December at three stores in Buffalo.

The coffee chain called the accusations “false” and vowed to fight them at an upcoming hearing.

“Starbucks does not agree that the claims have merit, and the issuance of the complaint does not constitute a finding by the NLRB,” spokesman Reggie Borges wrote in an email. “It is the beginning of a litigation process that allows both parties to be heard and present evidence.”

Starbucks Workers United, the group behind the unionization effort, said the complaint “confirms the scope and depravity of Starbucks conduct in Western New York for most of the year.”

“Starbucks is finally being held accountable for the anti-union rampage they went on,” Danny Rojas, a fired shift supervisor, said in a statement. “Starbucks needs to understand that it is morally corrupt to retaliate against union leaders, and I hope the NLRB will force Starbucks to do the right thing at this time.”

Last month, federal labor officials asked a judge to force Starbucks to reinstate three union activists at its Phoenix location, alleging the coffee giant engaged in unfair labor practices.

Starbucks reported Tuesday that its sales rose to record levels in its fiscal second quarter, but said it faced higher labor costs, which will grow even higher in coming months as the company introduces new salary increases and other benefits.

Starbucks Workers United has said it filed charges with the labor board against Starbucks on Tuesday. The group alleges that the company is violating labor law by threatening to exclude unionized stores from receiving the new benefits.

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