The following article is from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation’s bi-monthly Foundation Action Newsletter, July/August 2023 edition. To view other editions of Foundation Action or to sign up for a free subscription, click here.
Majority of workers at flagship NYC Starbucks Roastery want decertification vote
NEW YORK, NY – Union bosses and their bought-and-paid-for political allies have been touting Starbucks as the latest and greatest frontier in union organizing. But, as soon as legally permitted after several high-profile Starbucks unionization efforts, workers are already seeking to vote out union officials.
Kevin Caesar, an employee of the high-end Starbucks Reserve Roastery location in Manhattan, sought out Foundation legal aid this May. He sought assistance in submitting a petition backed by a majority of his colleagues to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a vote to remove, or “decertify,” Starbucks Workers United (SBWU), and their puppet-masters at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), from the Roastery. Under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), workers must wait one year after a union is installed before seeking to remove it, meaning Caesar and his colleagues essentially filed their decertification petition as soon as allowed by the law.
“We have seen our workplace both with and without the union. We believe that the union is looking out for itself more than it is looking out for Starbucks partners, who do not want forced dues and who can advocate for ourselves,” stated Caesar about why he wants to be free of the union.
“That is why a majority of us have decided we would be better off without the union. The fact that the union officials have forced us to go through this decertification process despite the majority of workers stating they do not want to be represented by this union shows how little regard the union has for the will of the workers,” he added. “We call on union officials to respect our rights and not attempt to fight this vote.”
With the petition filed, the NLRB should now promptly schedule a secret ballot election to determine whether a majority of workers want to end union officials’ power to impose a contract, including forced dues, on the workers. However, SBWU officials have already announced they will seek to block the vote, a matter Foundation attorneys quickly opposed in a brief to the NLRB.
Worker Dissatisfaction with Unions Growing Nationwide
The Starbucks workers are just the latest example of growing dissatisfaction with union officials’ so-called “representation.” Currently, worker requests for Foundation aid in decertifying an unwanted union are at an all-time high. NLRB statistics similarly show a 20% increase in decertification petitions last year versus 2021.
Unfortunately, the NLRB’s union decertification process is prone to union boss-created roadblocks, which can impact the Starbucks workers if union officials plot to stay in power regardless of workers’ wishes. Foundation-backed NLRB reforms from 2020, collectively known as the “Election Protection Rule,” have made it somewhat easier for workers to escape unwanted union “representation,” by eliminating the most egregious “blocking charge” tactics used by union bosses to delay or stop decertification elections entirely. “Blocking charges” are unverified union boss allegations of employer misconduct, often unrelated to workers’ desire to decertify.
Currently, the Biden-appointed NLRB majority is conducting rulemaking to roll back these protections and make it much harder for workers to decertify a union.
Foundation Provides Legal Notice to Starbucks Employees
After being in contact with multiple Starbucks workers interested in how to resist union control, the Foundation issued a legal notice informing employees of the coffee chain of their right to petition for a vote to oust an unpopular union.
“No worker anywhere should be forced under so-called union ‘representation’ they oppose,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Starbucks workers around the nation that fall victim to union tyranny should know they can turn to Foundation staff attorneys for assistance.”
“Foundation staff attorneys are now fighting to ensure that these workers are not denied the vote that they are entitled to under federal law to remove union control they oppose,” continued Mix. “Union bosses should not be allowed to keep their grip on power simply by disenfranchising those they claim to ‘represent.’”