After being in contact with multiple Starbucks employees seeking to exercise their right to free themselves from union control, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has issued the following Special Legal Notice. Foundation attorneys are already providing free legal aid to Starbucks employees in New York City, where a majority of workers at the flagship New York Roastery have petitioned for a vote to remove the union.

All Starbucks employees should know they have the right to petition the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for a secret ballot election to remove a union. However, the NLRB process is complex and open to manipulation from union officials, so we strongly recommend you read this entire notice before beginning such an effort. We also recommend you reach out to Foundation attorneys, who regularly provide free legal advice and representation to workers interested in decertifying a union.

The Foundation wants you to learn about your legal rights from independent sources. You should not rely on what self-interested union officials tell you. For over four decades, Foundation attorneys have worked to protect and expand the rights of individual employees to reject unwanted union control. It is the nation’s premier organization exclusively dedicated to providing free legal assistance to employee victims of forced unionism abuse.

Starbucks employees who oppose union control in their workplace should know they have the following rights:

  1. You have the right to gather signatures from your fellow employees on a petition asking the NLRB to hold a vote to remove the union at your workplace. If the petition contains the signatures of 30% or more of the workers in your bargaining unit, it can be used to trigger a “decertification election” held by the NLRB. However, the decertification process contains many restrictions and time limitations, so please refer to the Foundation’s webpage on decertification elections before proceeding with such an effort, and consider requesting free Foundation legal aid in navigating the process.

  2. You have the right to resign your membership in the union, and revoke any dues deduction authorization you have signed. If you don’t support the union, you can send the union a letter resigning your membership at any time.

    NOTE: While not legally required, a good practice is to send your written resignation to the union by certified mail, with tracking number, and save a copy of the letter and the tracking number to prove delivery. If you hand-deliver a resignation, make sure that you have a reliable witness to the delivery.

  3. Depending on your situation, you may have a right to cut off all payments of dues and fees to the union if you don’t support its activities. Union officials can only mandate that employees pay dues or fees as a condition of employment if the union and management have finalized a union monopoly bargaining contract that contains a valid forced-dues clause.

    If, as is the case with many recently-unionized Starbucks locations, there is no union monopoly bargaining contract in effect, you cannot be forced to pay any union dues or fees. If you find that union dues or fees have been demanded or seized from your pay without a contract being in place, please seek free legal aid from the Foundation.

    If a monopoly bargaining contract is in place at your location, please consult this webpage to find out if you live in a Right to Work state. If you work in a state with Right to Work protections, you have a right to opt-out of all union financial support. See this page for a detailed explanation of your rights.

    If you work in a state that lacks Right to Work protections, union officials with a monopoly bargaining agreement can unfortunately force you to pay some union fees in order to keep your job. However, there are still limitations on how much and under what circumstances you can legally be required to pay. You still have the right to cut off dues payments for union politics and other expenses unrelated to the union’s bargaining functions, as per the Foundation-won Communications Workers v. Beck (1988) Supreme Court decision. A sample letter for employees who wish to resign their union membership, revoke their dues check-off, and exercise their right under Beck to opt-out of dues deductions for union politics and other non-bargaining expenses is available here.

  4. If you are subject to a forced-dues clause, you and your coworkers have a right to vote away union officials’ power to force you to pay dues or fees as a condition of employment. Such an election, called a “deauthorization election,” begins with a petitioning process similar to a decertification election, but the result of a majority vote will instead be the removal of union officials’ forced-dues power. Of course, such an election is only necessary if a monopoly bargaining contract authorizing forced dues is in effect in your workplace. Click here for more information on deauthorization elections.

We know you are busy, and we know that unionization can create tension within a workplace and a lot of confusion regarding your legal rights. If you have any questions about the rights listed above or any of your other rights, do not hesitate to contact Foundation staff attorneys for free legal help at 1-800-336-3600 or at