Starbucks Corporation has accused the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) of manipulating employee elections in order to form unions and has asked for the election to be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.
According to a letter from Starbucks, directed in particular to NLRB Chairwoman Lauren McFerran, the coffee giant accuses NLRB agents of allegedly helping a union group called Workers United win elections by manipulating the voting process and then cooperating to cover up the conduct.
Starbucks claims it learned of the alleged violations from a whistleblower who is a longtime NLRB employee. The company says it has been made aware that misconduct occurred during a union election in Kansas City, Kansas, and is believed to have occurred in other locations as well.
A spokesperson for the NLRB says they have well-established election appeals procedures and will consider any challenges carefully and objectively.
Workers United, on the other hand, calls the letter the latest attempt by Starbucks to manipulate the legal process for its own benefit and prevent workers from exercising their fundamental right to organize.
A year ago, there were no Starbucks corporate unions in the US, but now workers at 216 coffee shops have voted to join a union. Workers in 46 other locations voted against unionization.
The election was conducted by postal ballot, and the company requests that all pending and future elections be conducted by hand with in-person voting and observers on both sides.
The allegations come amid a growing movement to unionize among U.S. retail chains, including giants such as Amazon, Chipotle, Lululemon Athletica and Trader Joe’s.