News & Commentary

May 10, 2022

Travis Lavenski

Travis Lavenski is a student at Harvard Law School.

In today’s News & Commentary, Amazon terminates two union-supporting employees at JFK8; Michigan Starbucks workers receive a union election date; TIME Magazine workers threaten to strike; and Tudor’s Biscuit World hit with a complaint from the NLRB.

Amazon continues to make headlines for the wrong reasons after the Amazon Labor Union’s historic win at JFK8 in Staten Island. Vice News reported Monday afternoon that Amazon has fired two outspoken union supporters who worked at the Staten Island warehouse, Mat Cusick and Tristan Dutchin. Cusick, who worked as ALU’s communications lead, was on approved COVID leave when he received an email notifying him he was being terminated for “voluntary resignation due to job abandonment.” Dutchin, an ALU organizer who was featured prominently in several national news stories in the wake of ALU’s victory, was fired after Amazon claimed he was not meeting his productivity goals. “[M]y fear is this is a prelude or pretext for more retaliatory firings targeting organizers and them saying ‘This is just our policy,'” Cusick told Vice. This news comes just days after reports that Amazon fired at least half a dozen senior managers at JFK8 as noted by Fred in yesterday’s News & Commentary. Amazon continues to contest ALU’s victory with the National Labor Relations Board.

The Starbucks union push marches on as Starbucks Workers United announced yesterday that 10 Starbucks stores in Michigan have finally received union election dates from the NLRB. Some Starbucks stores have been waiting for months to receive election dates, during which time the union says workers have been subjected to Starbuck’s aggressive union-busting tactics. Since the first store in Buffalo voted to unionize, 250 stores in 36 different states have filed with the NLRB to hold a union election. The union push has resulted in a litany of unfair labor practice charges against the coffee chain, staining its reputation as a progressive industry leader.

The recent surge of labor activism in the journalism industry continues as TIME workers are threatening to strike if the company cannot agree to a contract by May 23rd, the day when the influential Time 100 list is scheduled to release. The TIME Union, representing around 100 TIME digital, print and TIME for Kids employees, has bargained with management for nearly 3 years without securing a contract. The union says it has received “nothing but resistance from management” to its demands of increasing wages and job security. The union is asking readers to sign this petition to call on TIME to agree to a fair contract.

Popular West Virginia fast-food chain Tudor’s Biscuit World, a culturally significant staple with over 70 locations, faces an NLRB complaint after workers failed to secure a union victory earlier this year at a franchise in the small town of Elkview. Tudor’s workers organized to form a union this past winter in response to sparse COVID-19 safety protocols, problems with scheduling and general mistreatment from middle management. The complaint, signed by NLRB Regional Director Matthew Denholm, alleges the fast-food chain unlawfully suspended two union-supporting employees for leading the unionization effort and intimidated workers into voting against the union. An administrative law judge will hear the case this June. If this campaign is eventually successful, the Elkview location would become the first ever unionized Tudor’s.

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