Starbucks and IWW settle
Starbucks and the Industrial Workers of the World reached a settlement agreement this week over unionizing efforts at a Starbucks store...
Seattle Times business reporter
Starbucks and the Industrial Workers of the World reached a settlement agreement this week over unionizing efforts at a Starbucks store in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The IWW had accused Starbucks management of coercively interrogating employees about union activities, among other things, said Stephen Glasser, regional director for the National Labor Relations Board in Detroit.
Glasser approved the settlement agreement Wednesday.
The settlement comes as Starbucks is defending itself at hearings before an administrative-law judge in New York against NLRB charges of unfair labor practices. Trial dates are scheduled through late October. Starbucks says the accusations are baseless.
Last year, Starbucks paid nearly $2,000 to settle an IWW complaint with the NLRB, and in 2005 it paid $165,000 to settle charges that it had screened against job applicants with possible union sympathies and had fired an employee for refusing to continue such screening at its Kent roasting plant. In both cases, the company admitted no wrongdoing.
No money changed hands in this week's settlement, and Starbucks did not acknowledge any wrongdoing, but the company agreed to post notices in the Grand Rapids store for two months advising employees of their right to unionize.
The NLRB in Detroit investigated IWW claims concerning the Grand Rapids store and "concluded that there may be a basis for finding a violation" of the National Labor Relations Act, Glasser said.
"We did not issue a complaint," Glasser said. "The employer said, 'We can settle this without formal proceedings.' "
Starbucks said the allegations involved the use of an in-house bulletin board at one Grand Rapids store, an alleged unlawful statement by one manager, and the distribution of an employee-policy handbook.
"Starbucks chose to settle these three relatively minor charges, rather than proceed to litigation, because it allows everyone involved to avoid unnecessary costs," the company said in a written statement. "Starbucks strictly complies with the laws and guidelines associated with labor organizing."
Daniel Gross, an organizer for the IWW, said the fact that Starbucks settled in Michigan while defending its actions in New York "is testament to the company's lack of respect for employment rights."
Melissa Allison: 206-464-3312 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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