The U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) petitioned a federal court on Friday to force Starbucks to reinstate three employees the NLRB claims were fired due to their union campaigning, CNBC reports.
"Employees have the fundamental right to choose whether or not they want to be represented by the union without restraint or coercion by their employer. The faith of Starbucks employees nationwide in workplace democracy will not be restored unless these employees are immediately reinstated under the protection of a federal court order," said NLRB Regional Director Cornele Overstreet in a statement.
Per CNBC, "more than 200 Starbucks locations have filed paperwork to unionize under Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union," and 24 stores have already voted to unionize.
On Friday, The New York Post reported that leaked video of a meeting between Starbucks managers and executives showed Rossann Williams, the company's president for North America, denying that Starbucks is engaging in "union-busting." In the same video, CEO Howard Schultz appeared to refer to the unionization push as an "outside force that's trying desperately to disrupt our company."
Schultz, who recently rejoined Starbucks for his third stint as CEO after previously running the chain from 1986 to 2000 and from 2008 to 2017, "is particularly polarizing among union supporters because he has frequently spoken about his belief that Starbucks shouldn't be unionized," The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
According to CNBC, Workers United has filed dozens of complaints with the NLRB against Starbucks, while Starbucks has filed complaints of its own, alleging that "the union organizing its baristas broke federal law."