Somerville Starbucks workers quit after alleged union busting threats
The workers said they walked out after a Starbucks manager illegally threatened to discipline staff who wore union shirts to work.
Just weeks after taking steps to unionize, baristas at a Starbucks in Somerville staged a strike on Wednesday after they said a manager had threatened to discipline workers who wore union shirts to work.
“Yesterday (one of us) was criticized for wearing his Starbucks Workers United shirt, and today we were told again that we weren’t allowed to wear it, even though it’s legally protected,” a worker said during a picket outside the Somerville Avenue store on Wednesday morning, according to a press release from Starbucks Workers United.
The walkout lasted until noon, according to the union.
A 2022 ruling by the National Labor Relations Board reaffirmed long-standing precedent that employer attempts to restrict the display of union badges – including union attire – are “presumed unlawful, absent particular circumstances that warrant such a restriction,” according to the NLRB.
“Wearing union badges, whether it’s a button or a t-shirt, is an essential form of protected communication,” NLRB president Lauren McFerran said at the time. a statement. “For many decades, employees have used badges to advocate for their interests in the workplace – whether supporting union organizing drives or protesting unfair workplace conditions – and the law always protected them.”
A Starbucks spokesperson did not immediately return Boston.com’s request for comment.
Somerville store staff filed a petition to unionize with Starbucks Workers United on February 24 written in a letter to CEO Howard Schultz, “We give our all to make our store a place where people want to be. Despite this, however, we do not feel appreciated for this work. What we feel is unheard of, unrecognized and disrespectful.
This isn’t the first time Starbucks has been accused of violating labor laws during a union drive; earlier this month, a federal judge ordered the company to reinstate several workers and reopen a site after finding Starbucks violated labor laws “hundreds of times” during a union drive in Buffalo, New York.
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