The NLRB workers in question “engaged in highly improper systemic misconduct involving Starbucks and Workers United,” the company’s general counsel wrote in a letter to the NLRB. Starbucks said an NLRB whistleblower alerted the company to the alleged misconduct.
Starbucks accuses NLRB employees of allowing some pro-union workers to vote in person, although it was decided that ballots would be submitted by mail. Some workers missed the deadline to vote by mail but weren’t given the opportunity to vote in person, Starbucks alleged, encourage a pro-union result.
The coffee chain also alleged that NLRB workers gave the union information such as the date and number of ballots received in the mail.
“In light of these types of misconduct by NLRB staff, we are asking the Board to immediately suspend all Starbucks mail-in elections nationwide…until there is a full investigation” , Starbucks said in the letter.
Starbucks is asking that the results of a board-led investigation into the alleged misconduct be made public and that “safeguards to prevent future misconduct” be put in place before moving forward. In the future, he wants the elections to be held in person.
“The NLRB does not comment on open cases,” Kayla Blado, director and press secretary for the NLRB’s Congressional and Public Affairs Office, said in a statement about the letter.
“The agency has well-established processes to address challenges around handling election issues and unfair labor practice cases,” she said. “These challenges should be raised in documents specific to the particular issues in question.” Blado noted that all issues raised in these channels would be “carefully and objectively” reviewed by the board.
Union organizers say the coffee chain acted unfairly and the NLRB’s letter is another example of the company’s bad faith.
“This is Starbucks once again trying to deflect attention from its unprecedented anti-union campaign,” Starbucks Workers United said in a statement. “Ultimately, this is Starbucks’ latest attempt to manipulate the legal process for its own purposes and prevent workers from exercising their fundamental right to organize.” Starbucks says it respects the right of employees to seek a union.
In the letter, Starbucks noted that “the NLRB’s General Counsel and other Board staff have repeatedly stated that Starbucks has committed more than one hundred ‘unfair labor practice’ violations”, but that “these statements are contradicted by the fact that the Commission to date has made no finding regarding the merits of any violation by Starbucks.”