In a sweeping decision, an administrative judge in New York ruled on Wednesday that Starbucks had violated federal labor law dozens of times in responding to a union campaign in the Buffalo area shortly after the campaign began roughly 18 months ago.
Michael A. Rosas, a judge for the National Labor Relations Board, concluded that Starbucks had illegally monitored, disciplined and fired employees engaged in union organizing; added workers to stores to dilute support for the union; and promised new benefits to workers in an attempt to defuse support for the union.
The ruling mandates the reinstatement of seven Buffalo-area workers who the judge concluded were unlawfully discharged from the company, and back pay and damages to more than two dozen workers who the judge concluded had suffered retaliation that affected their compensation, such as a reduction of hours.
In addition, the judge ordered the chief executive of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, to read or be present for the reading of a notice promising to refrain from committing a series of labor law violations in the future, and to make and distribute a video of the reading.
“This is truly a historic ruling,” Gary Bonadonna Jr., the regional head of Workers United, the union organizing Starbucks, said in a statement. “We will continue to fight and hold billionaires like Howard Schultz accountable for their actions. We will not rest until every Starbucks worker wins the right to organize.”
The ruling can be appealed to the labor board in Washington, and to federal court after that, and Starbucks indicated that it might do so. “We believe the decision and the remedies ordered are inappropriate given the record in this matter and are considering all options to obtain further legal review,” the company said in a statement.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.