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Two Colorado Starbucks employees – and thousands of supporters nationwide – celebrate recent win for unionized workers

Starbucks employees and their supporters picket outside of a shop on East Colfax Avenue in 2022. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)
Denver and Colorado Springs baristas won ruling that ordered company to reinstate former positions, back pay

This week, more than 9,500 members of Starbucks Workers United celebrated a major victory in Colorado for the union.

Two baristas who supported union formation at their Starbucks locations in Denver and Colorado Springs won a ruling that ordered the company to reinstate them to their former positions and backfill their lost wages and benefits.

The ruling was reached on Wednesday. The National Labor Relations Board found that the Starbucks employees were unlawfully terminated after trying to unionize. This violates the National Labor Relations Act.

In addition to those violations, Starbucks was found to have carried out unfair labor practices compromising the union election at the Colorado Springs branch at Academy Boulevard and Flintridge Drive. The judge concluded that the company engaged in “objectionable conduct” during a mail-in ballot union election held at this location in spring 2022. A new election was ordered as a part of the judge’s ruling.

Union supporter and barista Ryan Dinaro, the Starbucks employee unlawfully terminated from Denver’s Tremont location in June 2022, can now resume his work.

“I am planning to return to Starbucks to fight for a contract because my coworkers deserve better,” he said in a statement released by Starbucks Workers United. He argued that workers deserve reliable hours so they can consistently pay their bills and tuition, as well as maintain their health care. He also urged that employees “deserve a standard pay raise schedule so they don’t need to beg management” for raises.

Dinaro also addressed another pressing issue facing employees – workplace safety. Workers “deserve safety committees to remind management that attempted robbery, menacing, and assault on property is not normal and security upgrades are desperately needed,” he said.

Starbucks was also ordered to cease disciplining or discharging workers for being union supporters. This includes a ban on interrogating employees about union activity; threatening employees with retaliation if they vote for a union; and any manner “interfering, restraining or coercing employees in the exercise of their rights.” The company was also ordered to post a notice of workers’ rights granted under federal law in the two Colorado stores.

In an ongoing effort, members of Starbucks Workers United are demanding that the coffee giant end illegal union-busting tactics and bargain in good faith with workers who voted to form a union.

The NLRB has more than 500 pending cases of Starbucks’ “flagrant disregard” for labor law and NLRB judges have ruled that Starbucks has violated labor laws more than 100 times, according to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

Additionally, in nearly 50 separate decisions, federal administrative judges have found that Starbucks has committed more than 370 violations of federal labor law, including 42 unlawful firings, refusing to bargain, and unlawfully providing nonunion workers higher wages and better benefits than workers who voted to form a union, according to a statement released by Starbucks Workers United.

Still, Starbucks union workers remain determined. Since December 2021, more than 390 Starbucks stores in 42 states and the District of Columbia have successfully unionized – more than any other company in the 21st century.

Colorado Public Radio: To read more stories from Colorado Public Radio, visit www.cpr.org.

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