I have no direct knowledge of how Starbucks treats its employees. But, if the bar is that Starbucks treats its employees better than WalMart treats its employees, it does not seem to be a very high bar. I think that even I could leap over it—if not like a gazelle then like a spry hippopotamus.
In any case, a group of employees at Starbucks stores in New York City were trying to unionize, and the management of one of the stores deliberately provoked successive responses from one of the lead organizers that would allow them to create a paper trail justifying his firing.
The National Labor Relations Board found in favor of the terminated employee, Joseph Agins, but the decision was overturned when an Administrative Law Judge upheld the company’s argument that it had the right to terminate him for using profanity and remanded the case back to the NLRB for reconsideration.
The NLRB has again found in favor of Agins, emphasizing that company managers seem to have deliberately set out to provoke the profanity and to have violated multiple labor statutes protecting Agins’ and other employees’ right to organize.
What follows is the “remedies” section of the decision. The full text of the decision is available at the Department of Labor website at: https://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2014/06/board-decision.pdf
I am not saying that this sort of management behavior is widespread at Starbucks, but if this response to organizing has occurred at its New York stores, one does wonder what might be occurring in settings much more pointedly hostile to organized labor.
Starbucks Corporation d/b/a Starbucks Coffee Company and Local 660, Industrial Workers of the World.
REMEDY Having found that the Respondent has engaged in certain unfair labor practices, we shall order it to cease and desist and to take certain affirmative action designed to effectuate the policies of the Act. Specifically, having found that the Respondent violated Section 8(a)(3) and
(1) by discriminatorily discharging employee Joseph Agins, we shall order the Respondent to offer Agins full reinstatement to his former position or, if that position no longer exists, to a substantially equivalent position, without prejudice to his seniority or any other rights or privileges previously enjoyed. In addition, we shall order the Respondent to make Agins whole for any loss of earnings and other benefits suffered as a result of the unlawful action against him. Backpay shall be computed in accordance with F. W. Woolworth Co., 90 NLRB 289 (1950), with interest at the rate prescribed in New Horizons for the Retarded, 283 NLRB 1173 (1987), compounded daily as prescribed in Kentucky River Medical Center, 356 NLRB No. 8 (2010).
(2) The Respondent shall compensate Agins for the adverse tax consequences, if any, of receiving a lump-sum backpay award, and file a report with the Social Security Administration allocating the backpay award to the appropriate calendar quarters. The Respondent shall also be required to remove from its files any references to the unlawful discharge of Agins, and to notify him in writing that this has been done and that the discharge will not be used against him in any way.
ORDER The National Labor Relations Board orders that the Respondent, Starbucks Corporation d/b/a Starbucks Coffee Company, New York, NY, its officers, agents, successors, and assigns, shall
1. Cease and desist from
(a) Discharging or otherwise discriminating against employees for supporting Local 660, Industrial Workers of the World or any other labor organization.
(b) In any like or related manner interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed them by Section 7 of the Act.
2. Take the following affirmative action necessary to effectuate the policies of the Act.
(a) Within 14 days from the date of this Order, offer employee Joseph Agins full reinstatement to his former job or, if that job no longer exists, to a substantially equivalent position, without prejudice to his seniority or any other rights or privileges previously enjoyed.
(b) Make Joseph Agins whole for any loss of earnings and other benefits suffered as a result of the unlawful discrimination against him, in the manner set forth in the remedy section of this decision.
(c) Compensate Joseph Agins for the adverse tax consequences, if any, of receiving a lump-sum backpay award, and file a report with the Social Security Administration allocating the backpay award to the appropriate calendar quarters.
(d) Within 14 days from the date of this Order, remove from its files any reference to the unlawful discharge of Joseph Agins, and within 3 days thereafter, notify Agins in writing that this has been done and that the discharge will not be used against him in any way.
(e) Preserve and, within 14 days of a request, or such additional time as the Regional Director may allow for good cause shown, provide at a reasonable place designated by the Board or its agents, all payroll records, social security payment records, timecards, personnel records and reports, and all other records, including an electronic copy of such records if stored in electronic form, necessary to analyze the amount of backpay due under the terms of this Order.
(f) Within 14 days after service by the Region, post at its 9thStreet facility in New York, New York, copies of the attached notice marked “Appendix.”Copies of the notice, on forms provided by the Regional Director for Region 2, after being signed by the Respondent’s authorized representative, shall be posted by the Respondent and maintained for 60 consecutive days in conspicuous places, including all places where notices to employees are customarily posted. In addition to physical posting of paper notices, notices shall be distributed electronically, such as by email, posting on an intranet or an internet site, and/or other electronic means, if the Respondent customarily communicates with its employees by such means. Reasonable steps shall be taken by the Respondent to ensure that the notices are not altered, defaced, or covered by any other material. In the event that, during the pendency of these proceedings, the Respondent has gone out of business or closed the facility involved in these proceedings, the Respondent shall duplicate and mail, at its own expense, a copy of the notice to all current employees and former employees employed by the Respondent at any time since December 12, 2005.
(g) Within 21 days after service by the Region, file with the Regional Director for Region 2 a sworn certification of a responsible official on a form provided by the Region attesting to the steps that the Respondent has taken to comply.
Dated, Washington, D.C. June 16, 2014