NLRB finds merit in union charges against Amazon and Starbucks

In a sign that federal labor officials are closely monitoring management behavior during labor campaigns, the National Labor Relations Board said Friday it found merit in accusations that Amazon and Starbucks violated labor laws. .

At Amazon, the labor board has found merit in accusations that the company demanded workers attend union-busting meetings at a sprawling Staten Island warehouse where the Amazon Labor Union won a stunning election victory last month. latest. The decision was communicated to the union on Friday by an attorney with the regional labor board office in Brooklyn, according to Seth Goldstein, an attorney representing the union.

Such meetings, often known as “captive audience” meetings, are legal under current labor board precedent. But last month, the council’s general counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, issued a memo saying the precedent contradicted underlying federal law, and she said she would seek to challenge it.

In the same filing, the Amazon Labor Union accused the company of threatening to withhold employee benefits if they voted to unionize, and of misrepresenting employees that they could be fired if the warehouse were to unionize and they didn’t pay the union. rights. The labor board also found merit in those charges, according to an email from regional office attorney Matt Jackson.

Mr. Jackson said the agency would soon file a lawsuit reflecting those charges unless Amazon settles the matter. The complaint would be brought before an administrative law judge, whose decision could be appealed to the Washington Labor Board.

Mr. Goldstein commended Ms. Abruzzo and the regional office for taking “decisive action to end meetings with a captive audience” and said the right to unionize “will be protected by ending the inherently coercive labor practices of Amazon”.

Kelly Nantel, a spokeswoman for Amazon, said in a statement that “these allegations are false and we look forward to showing it throughout the process.”

At Starbucks, where the union won the first votes at more than 50 stores since December, the labor board on Friday filed a lawsuit over a series of charges the union filed, most in February, accusing the company of misbehaviour illegal. These charges include firing employees in retaliation for supporting the union; threaten employees’ ability to receive new benefits if they choose to unionize; requiring workers to be available for a minimum number of hours to remain employed in a unionized store without negotiating change, as a way to expel at least one union supporter; and by effectively promising benefits to workers if they decide not to join a union.

In addition to these allegations, the labor board found to be true accusations that the company intimidated workers by closing Buffalo-area stores and monitoring workers while they were on the job. All of these actions would be illegal.

In a statement, Starbucks Workers United, the branch of the union that represents workers there, said the finding “confirms the extent and depravity of Starbucks’ conduct in Western New York for much of the year”. He added: “Starbucks will be held accountable for the anti-union minefield it has forced workers through to fight for their right to organize.”

Starbucks said in a statement that the complaint does not constitute a labor board judgment, adding, “We believe the allegations in the complaint are false and we look forward to presenting our evidence when the allegations are adjudicated.”

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