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Union claims Starbucks illegally closing cafe to retaliate, Bloomberg reports


A professional-union poster is seen on a lamp pole outside Starbucks’ Broadway and Denny location in Seattle’s Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood on March 22, 2022.

Toby Scott | Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

The employees union at Starbucks is claiming the coffee chain is shutting down a recently unionized cafe in retaliation for its activist efforts.

It’s the newest escalation between a rapidly growing national labor movement and the coffee giant.

Employees United, the union that is backing organizing efforts at Starbucks, said in a Friday filing with the National Labor Relations Board that Starbucks is violating federal labor law by permanently closing an Ithaca, Latest York, store. The group alleged it was in retaliation since employees at the situation voted to unionize in April.

The Ithica store employees say they originally went on strike for unsafe working conditions on Apr. 16. Employees walked out as a consequence of a waste emergency attributable to the overflowing grease trap, in accordance with the union’s statement. In an email to the union’s bargaining committee, Starbucks cited the grease trap as the rationale for the shop closure.

The union committee alleges that Starbucks closed the shop in retaliation for activity protected by federal labor law and to stop staff elsewhere from organizing. “It’s a transparent try and scare staff across the country by retaliating against its own employees,” the committee said in a press release.

Starbucks said that it opens and closes stores “as an everyday part” of its operations. “Our goal is to be sure that every partner is supported of their individual situation, and now we have immediate opportunities available out there,” a Starbucks spokesperson said in an email to CNBC.

The union is asking the agency to hunt a federal court injunction to quickly prevent or reverse the shop closure.

Around 100 Starbucks cafes have voted to unionize under Employees United, while only 14 locations have voted against unionizing. Employees United announced this week it was making a $1 million fund to cover lost pay for baristas who go on strike.

Employees United has filed no less than 175 complaints against the coffee chain for unfair labor practices, CNBC previously reported. Starbucks has denied wrongdoing.

The employee union claims were first reported by Bloomberg News.

— CNBC’s Amelia Lucas contributed to this report.

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