Starbucks billionaire boss Howard Schultz has criticized the organized labor campaign at his company as an “outside force” as the Seattle-based coffee chain sees more store workers vote to join unions.
A newly leaked video obtained by the pro-labor news site More Perfect Union shows Schultz, who was reinstated as interim CEO last month, and another top executive denying accusations that the company is involved in union busting.
Rossann Williams, president of Starbucks North America, told managers in the same video that it is “their number one responsibility” to convince employees to vote.
“Play your role as a store manager [and] make sure your partners get balanced information about what’s going on, especially in [light of reports that the company is] union busting across the country,” Williams said.
She said there was “no union busting” at Starbucks and that the company was trying to make sure “every partner has a right to have their voice heard.”
Schultz encouraged managers to communicate the company’s position to employees so they “understand what it would really mean to vote for a union.”
The interim CEO said it was “of the utmost importance” that all employees vote. He later accused Starbucks Workers United of intimidating other workers from voting.
“Now, there are stories, I wasn’t there, but there are stories that people had potentially been intimidated into not voting,” according to Schultz. She provided no details or details to bolster the claim.
In the video, Williams claimed that he had been in Buffalo, New York, where the first Starbucks store was unionized, for four months and that “no union busting was taking place,” a claim that a Starbucks Workers United representative claimed. it was fake
“He was in our stores every day, inviting workers to lunch and organizing anti-union meetings,” said union representative Casey Moore.
Schultz, the man credited with building the chain into a global empire and who recently took over the helm on an interim basis, has embarked on a tour of Starbuck stores across the country to discourage employees from unionizing.
Earlier this week, workers at five Starbucks restaurants in Richmond, Virginia voted to join a union, bringing the total number of unionized locations to 26. So far, 15 of those stores have been certified by the National Board of Labor Relations.
Workers at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle, the city where the company is headquartered, also voted to unionize, according to The Seattle Times.
Employees at 218 other Starbucks locations have petitioned the NLRB to join a union.
According to More Perfect Union, Starbucks Workers United has filed more than 80 unfair labor practice complaints against the company.
Starbucks, which owns and operates some 9,000 stores across the United States, has been accused of firing pro-union baristas and reprimanding other workers who have also been active in the organized labor campaign.
Lisa Fickenscher contributed to this report.