This article was written by Victor Ocasio for Newsday.
Workers at a Starbucks in Great Neck accused managers of engaging in unfair labor practices to deter them from pushing to unionize, according to a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board.
Union representatives with the Workers United New York New Jersey Regional Board, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, filed a complaint Monday with the NLRB, . The complaint alleges that management of the store at 6 Great Neck Road engaged in nine unfair labor practices starting on or around Feb. 10 and ending around March 1.
Workers United also filed an NLRB complaint against Starbucks’ Siren Retail Corp. on behalf of workers at Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Ninth Avenue in Manhattan on Monday, the union said.
Workers at the Great Neck and Manhattan shops are hoping to join Workers United.
Joselyn Chuquillanqui, 27, one of the organizers behind the Great Neck shop’s union push, said management has misrepresented what unionization could mean for her and her co-workers.
“There are a lot of people who work at our store who rely on the benefits or possibly getting promotions and a lot of those things were falsely said would be taken away if we would be unionized,” Chuquillanqui said.
Seattle-based Starbucks Corp. denies the store workers' allegations, spokeswoman Sarah Albanesi said.
“Any claims of anti-union busting or activities are completely false. From the beginning, we’ve fully honored the process that the … NLRB lays out for employers,” she said.
When a store files a petition with the NLRB indicating its intent to unionize, local managers of that store make themselves available to employees to answer questions about how the process will work, including the procedures for collective bargaining between the union and company to negotiate wages and other benefits in contracts should unionization occur, Albanesi said.
Employees are hearing from the union, and it’s important that they hear from the employer, too, so that they can make informed choices, she said.
Last month, Chuquillanqui, along with 14 of her Starbucks co-workers at the Great Neck shop, signed union cards in support of a union vote. The baristas and shift managers at the store submitted their petition for union recognition Feb. 11.
“They’re saying we’re creating hostility in our workplace and there’s a divide in our store,” Chuquillanqui said. “It seems to be more made up and something they’re aiming to create.”
A mail-in vote will be overseen by the NLRB from April 8 until April 29, she said.
The unfair labor practices Starbucks' management allegedly engaged in included threats of disciplinary action, loss of promotion and loss of opportunities to work in different stores over employees' support of unionizing, according to the complaint. An employee also was threatened with the prospect of mandatory participation in strikes, implying loss of income as a result, the complaint said.
The Great Neck location is one of more than 100 stores nationwide that have filed petitions with the NLRB to hold votes, Workers United said. Seven have voted to unionize, with one location voting against.
Starbucks had 34,317 stores worldwide, including 15,500 in the United States, as of Jan. 2, the end of its fiscal first quarter.
With Tory N. Parrish