Image source: Eater Chicago
Although there have been waves of union efforts in businesses in 2022, a Starbucks Edgewater union store in Chicago will close in two weeks.
It was one of the first stores in the United States to join a union.
Starbucks plans to close its Chicago North Side facility the day before Halloween.
According to management, the Chicago branch will close on October 30, a Sunday.
The workers said the closure would happen four days before the start of the negotiation process for their first union contract.
However, a Starbucks representative denied their allegation.
Instead, they said the decision to close was due to unspecified safety concerns for employees and customers.
The Chicago cafe was among the first to win union elections in May by a 10-1 vote.
Retaliation and suspicions
Despite their statements, Workers United employees and organizers suspect that the October 26 bargaining date is involved in the closure.
Workers United is a subsidiary of the Service Employees International Union.
Several employees said the closure was Starbucks’ retaliation for their successful union campaign.
The company moved employees to other stores with little detail on travel times and costs.
Workers United says the closure is part of the company’s tactics.
Starbucks has already closed 10 locations where labor organizing has taken place.
The group filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Workers United argues that closing union cafes violates the National Labor Relations Act of 1935.
The Act is a fundamental labor law that guarantees workers the right to form unions to engage in collective bargaining.
In March, the NLRB learned that Lost Larson, a renowned Chicago bakery, defied the law and wrongfully fired an employee.
The employee attempted to form a union at her workplace.
The agreement between the two parties provided that management would not acquit or interfere with employees’ rights to raise concerns and grievances regarding the following:
- Other terms/conditions of employment on their behalf or the behalf of others
The challenge of proving retaliations
While some cases may be proven, other cases of retaliation can be difficult to prove.
In 2020, several fired employees of the Colectivo Coffee chain in Wisconsin filed a lawsuit against the chain.
The chain also has five locations in the Chicago area
The employees said their termination was retaliation for their involvement in the organizing committee of the Colectivo union.
The NLRB found the allegations without merit.
However, in 2021, Colectivo’s pro-workers had the upper hand, forming the largest union workers in a US coffee chain.
Starbucks workers claim Chicago shop’s closure is union retaliation