Friday, November 6, 2009

Starbucks loses three of four items it appealed to National Labor Relations Board

The Seattle Times

by Melissa Allison

The National Labor Relations Board overturned one of the four items that Starbucks appealed from a decision that an NLRB administrative-law judge made against the company last December.

The decision involved stores in New York, where the judge said work rules were unfairly imposed on employees who supported the union. The coffee chain was ordered to give back jobs to three former workers and compensate them for lost earnings. The company also must post notices informing employees of their labor-organizing rights.

Starbucks appealed four of the judge's numerous decisions, including the ones involving the three discharged workers and a decision against its policy allowing employees to wear only one union button while they're working.

In a ruling on Oct. 30, the NLRB stood behind the judge's decisions on three of the issues up for appeal but agreed with Starbucks that Isis Saenz, who was discharged in October 2006 from her job as a barista in Starbucks' 57th Street store, should not be given back her job.

The board upheld the judge's decision regarding former barista Daniel Gross, an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World's Starbucks Union. "It's a tremendous victory," Gross said of the board's decision. "It's a big boost to our members all over the country and to new baristas, who we're talking to every day."

Starbucks released a statement saying it is reviewing the ruling to determine its next steps. "While we are pleased with the portion of the ruling in our favor, we are concerned with other parts of the decision and will explore an appeal," the statement said.