Starbucks threatens employees against unionization
A federal complaint has been filed against a Starbucks in Phoenix for retaliating against unionizing employees.
Employees at a Starbucks in Arizona who began organizing earlier this year claim the coffee giant has engaged in a pattern of retaliation against them, including reduced hours, threats and harassment, and job termination.
Whoever works at the store says working conditions are growing worse while they wait for a hearing on a complaint they filed with the National Labor Relations Board about the terrible treatment.
"Things have really started to shift and change and now I'm at the point where like, this job is causing my mental health to be at such a low point. I think the lowest it's ever been in my entire life," Tyler Gillette, a Starbucks employee of two and a half years, told Insider.
Gillette is a seasoned training barista who has worked at a variety of locations before assisting with the opening of the Scottsdale & Mayo branch in Phoenix, Arizona, last year.
Read more: The First Starbucks Union is Brewing
A change in management at the end of 2021, according to Gillette and three other current and former employees at the facility, signaled a shift in working circumstances. The previously welcoming and inviting environment became cold and inflexible. Management began "cracking down" on every tiny regulation, denying schedule concessions and leaving requests for days off pending.
Earlier this year, many employees were inspired by the unionization of Starbucks stores in Buffalo and began discussing organizing their business.
Laila Dalton, a 19-year-old former barista at the Phoenix location, is a strong promoter of unionizing at her location but claims she was dismissed nearly immediately after publicly organizing.
"After I handed out the ballot cards, on the next shift I was punished, basically for wanting to start a union and create a better work environment so we can all have a voice," Dalton told Insider.
In March, workers at a Starbucks trying to unionize got a letter from store management stating that if they vote to unionize, "benefits and salaries will essentially be frozen" until a bargaining agreement is reached. VICE News got the letter, which strongly suggests that the firm aims to prolong the collective bargaining process.
“Generally speaking, if the union gets the votes needed to represent you, good-faith negotiations can often take more than a year—if a contract is reached at all,” states the letter, dated March 21 and signed by store managers in Olympia, Washington. “If a union is certified, benefits and wages will essentially be frozen while the parties negotiate the contract.”
“We will continue to share information, including how to vote by mail, over the next few weeks,” the letter adds. “I hope you’ll consider voting no.”
The letter, a portion of which was previously shared on the union's Instagram account, reflects interim CEO Howard Schultz's recent comments that the firm will extend benefits for the majority of its workforce—except for unionized employees.