News & Commentary

March 17, 2022

Anita Alem

Anita Alem is a student at Harvard Law School.

In a significant win for Starbucks workers, on Wednesday, the National Labor Relations Board rejected Starbucks’ argument on appeal regarding the proposed size of bargaining units. Starbucks had argued that the appropriate organizing level is at the regional level rather than store-by-store in an attempt to make unionizing more difficult for workers through larger unit sizes. However, the NLRB, reviewing the decision that found single-store units appropriate, stated only that Starbucks had raised “no substantial issues warranting review.” The decision comes on the heels of a complaint the Phoenix regional NLRB director filed on Tuesday alleging that Starbucks surveilled and retaliated against pro-union workers.

In what may signal a change in Starbucks’ strategy against unionization, founder Howard Schultz has stated he will be returning to his position as chief executive after his retirement in 2018. The current chief executive, Kevin Johnson, will be stepping down. The announcement came soon after a group of Starbucks investors recommended that Starbucks “publicly commit to a global policy of neutrality and swiftly reach fair and timely collective bargains with the workers should they vote to unionize.”

The Chicago Teacher’s Union was unsuccessful in its attempt to temporarily block the lifting of the mask mandate in Chicago public schools. The Union had argued that the lifting of the mandate violated the COVID safety agreement the district had previously agreed to that extended the mask mandate through August 26, 2022. The preliminary injunction was not granted on a vote of 3-2. However, the issue will be taken up again by the state labor board in June.

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