NLRB Dismisses Starbucks Charge Against Phoenix Union Organizers

Ralliers outside of a Starbucks at Scottsdale Road and Mayo Boulevard in Phoenix on April 5, 2022. (Photo by Jessica Swarner)

By Jessica Swarner

August 3, 2022

The National Labor Relations Board has dismissed a charge Starbucks filed against union organizers in Phoenix, saying there was not enough evidence that pro-union workers blocked store entrances or intimidated customers during a spring rally.

Seattle-based Starbucks filed the charge with the labor board in April. The company contended that pro-union workers violated US labor law by threatening workers and customers April 5 at the Phoenix Starbucks store at Scottsdale Road and Mayo Boulevard.

The company claimed workers, who were protesting the firing of union leader Laila Dalton, blocked the store’s entrances, made threats, yelled profanities, and pounded on the store’s windows.

But in a letter to the company late last week, the regional director of the NLRB in Phoenix, Cornele Overstreet, dismissed the charge. Overstreet said his investigation showed that demonstrators remained on the sidewalk and didn’t touch any employees, customers, or vehicles.

Bill Whitmire, a union leader who attended the rally, called Starbucks’ charge “vicious and unnecessary.”

“The accusations in that letter and the charges were one more way to harass and attack us for simply trying to organize or work place to make it better for the Rank and File Partners,” he wrote to The Copper Courier.

RELATED: Judge Denies Request to Reinstate Phoenix Starbucks Workers 

Starbucks said Monday it will appeal.

“We disagree the NLRB’s ruling and will appeal as we continue our efforts to protect our partners and allow for their voice to be heard,” the company said in a statement.

The charge was one of just two that Starbucks has filed against Workers United since the union began organizing US Starbucks stores late last year, according to the NLRB. By contrast, Workers United has filed more than 250 unfair labor practice charges against Starbucks, which opposes unionization.

More than 200 of Starbucks’ 9,000 company-owned US stores have voted to unionize since last December.

Workers at the Phoenix store voted earlier this year, but the count in early May did not reach an outcome due to the number of challenged ballots. Five locations in Arizona have voted to unionize so far.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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