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NLRB Region-3 Buffalo Wins Administrative Law Judge Decision Requiring Starbucks to Rehire and Compensate Seven Unlawfully Fired Workers, Reopen a Facility, Bargain with the Union, Provide Union Access, Conduct Training and Post Remedial Notices at Stores

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On March 1, 2023, NLRB Administrative Law Judge Michael A. Rosas issued a decision finding Starbucks had violated the National Labor Relations Act hundreds of times to affect workers’ organizing efforts through “egregious and widespread misconduct demonstrating a general disregard for the employees’ fundamental rights.”

His decision requires Starbucks to—among other remedies—reinstate unlawfully fired workers and, if they are unable to return, instate qualified applicants of the union’s choice; reimburse workers for consequential harm they suffered as a result of Starbucks’s unlawful conduct; union access and equal time to respond; post a notice electronically, including on all forms of social media, and at all U.S. stores and with an explanation of workers’ rights; bargain with the union; reopen an unlawfully closed facility; conduct ongoing training; and have Starbucks Execs Howard Schultz and Denise Nelson read the Notice to Employees and an Explanation of Rights or be present during a reading by a Board agent to the employees in the Buffalo-area stores.

Judge Rosas also ordered a Gissel Bargaining Order at Starbucks’ Camp Road Store in Buffalo, explaining that “[t]he unprecedented incursion of the Respondent’s highest-level corporate executives into Buffalo-area stores was relentless and likely left a lasting impact as to the importance of voting against representation.”

“Judge Rosas’s decision clearly recognizes the crucial importance of ensuring that Starbucks workers, and all workers nationwide, can freely exercise their right to join together to improve their working conditions and form a union,” said NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo. “This ruling should remind Starbucks, and other employers, that the NLRB will continue to vigorously protect workers’ rights to organize without interference from their employer.”

“I’m proud of Region 3 for their tireless work on this case and the resulting decision which demonstrates the Act’s important protections,” said Region 3-Buffalo Director Linda Leslie. “The Region’s staff is dedicated to effectuating the National Labor Relations Act and ensuring workers’ rights are protected.”

Established in 1935, the National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency that protects employees from unfair labor practices and protects the right of private sector employees to join together, with or without a union, to improve wages, benefits and working conditions. The NLRB conducts hundreds of workplace elections and investigates thousands of unfair labor practice charges each year.