Buffalo, New York
Administrative Law Judge Michael Rosas ruled March 1 that Starbucks is guilty of violating labor laws on hundreds of occasions, vindicating what workers have been alleging all along. (tinyurl.com/bd8dbfp4)
The ruling by Rosas, a judge for the National Labor Relations Board, forces Starbucks to rehire seven fired workers, reopen a store that management closed amidst the union campaign, and give back-pay and damages to workers affected by the anti-union retaliation. The decision requires that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz personally apologize to all workers and that Starbucks post a 13-page document listing the hundreds of labor rights violations in every Starbucks store in the U.S.
This ruling came the same day that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced a Senate vote that could force Schultz to appear in front of the Senate’s Labor Committee to testify about the union busting. Schultz was given the opportunity to testify voluntarily, but he has so far refused.
This ruling in favor of the union, which Starbucks is expected to appeal, would have been impossible without the movement built by the workers and the massive outpouring of support from customers and community members. Against all odds, Starbucks workers continue to fight against their bosses at the largest coffee corporation in the world. They are raising their voices loud enough so that neither the company nor the courts can ignore them.
The fight doesn’t end here. Starbucks has a history of ignoring court rulings and doing everything in their power to delay. While this legal victory marks a milestone for the union, the fight for the contract continues, as the company still refuses to bargain with its workers.
Workers at 289 stores in 37 states who chose the union are awaiting Starbucks at the bargaining table. With dozens of elections on the way, that number will surely continue to rise, as the union grows stronger every day.
The author is a former Starbucks worker who helped organize the first stores in Buffalo, New York, and is a member of Workers World Party.