Workers United has been targeted for removal by Starbucks and other coffee employees across country; vote slated for September 7
Philadelphia, PA (August 23, 2023) – Employees at two locations of Good Karma Café, an independent Philadelphia-based coffee shop, are requesting a vote to end the Workers United union’s monopoly bargaining power over workers. Good Karma employee Marco Camponeschi submitted a petition backed by his coworkers to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 4 in Philadelphia with free legal aid from the National Right to Work Foundation.
Camponeschi’s petition contained signatures from enough Good Karma workers to trigger a vote to remove the union (or “decertification election”) under the NLRB’s rules. NLRB Region 4 this week scheduled the election to take place on Thursday, September 7, at Good Karma’s locations on 331 S. 22nd Street and 265 S. Broad Street in Philadelphia.
Because Pennsylvania lacks Right to Work protections for its private sector employees, Workers United union officials have the power to enter into an agreement that will compel Camponeschi and his coworkers to pay money to the union hierarchy as a condition of keeping their jobs. In contrast, in states with Right to Work laws, union membership and all union financial support are strictly voluntary and the choice of each individual worker.
The Good Karma employees’ election comes as coffee employees across the country are seeking votes to remove unwanted unions from their workplaces, most notably at Starbucks. Workers United is the same union that is waging an aggressive and high-profile unionization campaign on Starbucks, bolstered by the money and resources of the gigantic Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The New York Post reported in July that Workers United spent nearly $2.5 million on hiring “salts” and other union activists. “Salts” are covert union agents who obtain jobs at nonunion firms to agitate in favor of union control, and often quit soon after the union is installed.
“After the Workers United union was installed, there was a lot of employee turnover and we soon found ourselves very short-staffed,” Camponeschi commented. “Workers United union officials have been bad for the stability of Good Karma and have not stood up for the interests of me and my coworkers, and I’m sure that a majority of my coworkers will vote to move forward without their presence.”
Coffee Employees Nationwide Seek Foundation Aid in Exercising Right to Remove Unwanted Unions
In just the past few months, Starbucks employees in Manhattan, NY, Buffalo, NY, Pittsburgh, PA, Bloomington, MN, Salt Lake City, UT, and Greenville, SC, have all sought free Foundation legal aid in pursuing decertification efforts against Workers United union bosses at the NLRB. Foundation attorneys also assisted Seattle-based Storyville Coffee Company employees in a decertification effort against United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union officials in July, but UFCW bosses disclaimed interest in the unit before an election could occur, likely to avoid an unfavorable election result.
The flurry of decertification attempts at Starbucks is occurring roughly one year after Workers United union officials unionized many of the coffee chain’s employees. Workers United union officials also gained power at Good Karma last April. Federal labor law forbids workers from decertifying a union for a year after a union’s installation, meaning many coffee workers are seizing on the earliest possible opportunity to rid themselves of the Workers United union’s “representation.”
Outside of coffee shops, union decertification efforts are becoming much more common. Currently, the NLRB’s data shows a unionized private sector worker is far more likely to be involved in a decertification effort as their nonunion counterpart is to be involved in a unionization campaign. NLRB statistics also show a 20% increase in decertification petitions last year versus 2021.
“Workers United union officials seem to have a penchant for rapidly expanding their control over employees without regard for their interests,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “It is thus unsurprising that coffee employees nationwide are banding together to vote Workers United out.”
“While we’re glad the NLRB plans to hold an election for Good Karma employees, it should be noted that NLRB officials across the country are blocking Starbucks employees from exercising that same right at the behest of Workers United union officials,” Mix added. “Workers should be in charge of their own right to vote out unwanted unions, and the NLRB should not stifle that right according to union officials’ whims. That’s especially important as the Biden NLRB seeks to make several rule changes which will make it harder for workers to vote out union officials.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in about 200 cases nationwide per year.