Starbucks Asks Labor Board to Suspend Mail-In Voting After 'Infected' Union Election
Starbucks is asking the National Labor Relations Board to suspend mail-in union elections after an election in the Kansas City area did not go its way.
According to Fox Business, Starbucks wrote a letter to the chairman and general counsel of the NLRB accusing the labor board officials of tampering in an union election at a store in Overland Park, Kansas.
The letter alleged board members in the Kansas City area “and elsewhere engaged in highly improper, systemic misconduct” in union elections.
Unionization efforts at Starbucks stores have been led by Workers United. Over 220 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize in the United States, CNBC reported.
Starbucks said it was informed by a whistleblower from the NLRB that board officials coordinated with union officials to set up in-person voting at labor board offices, despite the fact that the NLRB had ordered “mail-ballot” elections.
The coffee giant also accused labor board officials of giving information to union representatives that “enabled the union to target and influence employees who have not yet voted,” according to Fox Business.
Starbucks said the whistleblower informed it of documents and emails showing correspondence between board officials and union representatives.
The documents showed “board personnel have secretly colluded with the Union to affect multiple stages” of the election process, Starbucks alleged in the letter.
“The purpose of this misconduct was to tip-the-scale in order to deliver the outcome sought by the Union,” Starbucks wrote. “The result of the misconduct was to ignore — and bypass — the actual sentiments that Starbucks partners may have expressed in properly conducted elections.”
Due to the alleged injustices, Starbucks requested all current and future mail-in elections to be suspended pending an investigation from NLRB Inspector General David Berry.
The company said it did not want mail-in elections to be held until the investigation concluded, “the outcome has been made public, and safeguards to prevent future misconduct have been implemented,” Fox Business reported.
“Until a thorough investigation is conducted it’s anyone’s guess how many elections in how many other regions have been similarly infected,” the company said, according to CNBC.
NLRB spokeswoman Kayla Blado said the board does not comment on open cases, but she said there is a clear process for parties to express concerns about union elections.
“Those challenges should be raised in filings specific to the particular matters in question,” Blado said.
Meanwhile, Starbucks Workers United said the letter was an attempt to distract people from Starbucks’ disapproval of workers unionizing.
“Ultimately, this is Starbucks’ latest attempt to manipulate the legal process for their own means and prevent workers from exercising their fundamental right to organize,” the campaign said in a statement to CNBC.
Starbucks was supportive of both mail-in voting and ballot drop boxes during the 2020 presidential election, Yahoo! Finance reported.
CEO Kevin Johnson called on all Starbucks employees to vote, and he said the company would give its employees “the tools and the time necessary to register and cast” their votes. This included information on how to request a mail-in ballot.
“Every aspect of our communities is impacted by COVID-19, and that includes election operations,” Johnson said at the time. “We encourage leaders at all levels of government to work to ensure that members of their communities have a safe way to vote.”
“Making necessary adjustments to ensure polling places and ballot drop boxes are safe and accessible for all and polling places are appropriately staffed is critical.”
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