Starbucks unionization efforts: Asks labor board to halt votes

More than 220 US Starbucks stores have voted to unionize since late last year. The Seattle coffee giant opposes union efforts.

SEATTLE — Starbucks is asking the National Labor Relations Board to temporarily suspend all union elections at its U.S. stores in response to allegations of improper coordination between regional NLRB officials and the union.

In a letter sent to the NLRB Monday, Starbucks said an unnamed government official updated the company on numerous issues at the NLRB’s St. Louis office while it was holding an election at a Starbucks store in St. Louis earlier this spring Overland Park, Kansas.

The Seattle coffee giant claims the regional office has made special arrangements to allow pro-union workers to vote in person at its office, even though in-store elections are supposed to be conducted by postal ballot.

Starbucks said regional officials also shared confidential information with the union, including which ballots had arrived in the mail to be counted.

Email messages asking for comment were left Monday at the NLRB and Starbucks Workers United, the group trying to unionize US Starbucks stores. The union said it was preparing a response.

Workers at the Overland Park store voted 6-1 to organize in April, but seven other ballots were contested by Starbucks or the union. A hearing on those challenges is scheduled for Tuesday, but in the letter, Starbucks asked that that hearing be postponed.

More than 220 US Starbucks stores have voted to unionize since late last year. The company is resisting union efforts.

Starbucks said there were indications of wrongdoing in other regions as well. The company wants the NLRB to thoroughly investigate other Starbucks union elections and publish a report of its findings. The company said the board should also take safeguards to prevent regional officials from coordinating with one party or the other.

MORE: Starbucks is closing 16 US stores for security reasons

Starbucks also asked the NLRB to issue an executive order requiring all upcoming and future elections to be conducted in person with observers from both sides.

“If the NLRB does not respond by investigating and remediing these types of actions, we do not see how the board can present itself as a neutral authority,” the company’s letter said. Starbucks unionization efforts: Asks labor board to halt votes

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