I am actually shocked that the company we believe in has drifted so far from its core mission and values that they seem willing to do absolutely anything to stop us from forming our union. But we are voting on our union soon, and they will soon learn how unstoppable we truly are.”— Michelle Eisen Starbucks Barista
BUFFALO , N.Y. — Today, Starbucks barista Michelle Eisen, representing Starbucks partners across Buffalo, filed an unfair labor practice charge against Starbucks corporate at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleging an unprecedented degree of interference with and disruption of a union organizing attempt.
In response to partners’ petitions for union elections, filed at the end of August, Starbucks sent in an anti-union task force, led by the president of Starbucks North America, Rossann Williams, to try to stop organizing efforts in the city. Starbucks has referred to this task force, which many are citing as the largest force ever assembled by a modern U.S. company to thwart a union organizing campaign, as “the Buffalo SWAT team.”
“What Starbucks is doing to crush the union campaign seems extraordinary. Employers are not allowed to tamper with the ‘laboratory conditions’ for a fair election during a union campaign. From all appearances, this employer is doing just that, arrogantly defying basic labor law principles in an effort to kill the unionization effort, without regard for the consequences,” said Wilma Liebman, former chair of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Baristas and shift supervisors report that the environment in their workplaces has changed greatly since they went public with the union campaign. “Our stores don’t feel like our stores,” said Lexi Rizzo, a partner at the Cheektowaga location.
“Many of us have anxiety already,” added Jaz Brisack, a partner at the Elmwood store. “Now we are constantly being watched by management and pressured to attend meetings with corporate. It’s all extremely stressful and anxiety-inducing.”
“I am actually shocked that the company we believe in has drifted so far from its core mission and values that they seem willing to do absolutely anything to stop us from forming our union,” Eisen said. “But we are voting on our union soon, and they will soon learn how unstoppable we truly are.”
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