Throughout 2022, waves of union efforts have hit businesses, but a Starbucks Edgewater store in Chicago will close in two weeks.
It was one of the first stores in the United States to join a union.
The coffee giant has announced plans to close the branch on Chicago’s North Side the day before Halloween.
According to the management, the store will close on October 30, a Sunday.
Workers said the closure would take place four days before the negotiation process for their first union contract began.
However, a Starbucks representative denied the accusation, saying the decision to close was due to unspecified security concerns for employees and customers.
The Chicago cafe was among the first to win the union election by a 10 to 1 vote in May.
Retaliation and suspicions
Despite their explanations, Workers United employees and organizers suspect the closure involves October 26.
Workers United is a subsidiary of the Service Employees International Union.
Several employees said the closure was in retaliation for their successful union campaign.
The company moved employees to other stores with little detail on travel times and costs.
Workers United argues that the arrest is part of the company’s tactics and patterns.
Starbucks has already closed ten locations where the organizations have taken place.
The group filed an unfair labor practice lawsuit with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Workers United argues that the closure of union cafes violates the National Labor Relations Act of 1935.
The law is a fundamental labor law statute that guarantees workers the right to form trade unions to bargain collectively.
In March, the NLRB learned that Lost Larson, an acclaimed Chicago bakery, was ignoring the statute and illegally firing an employee.
The employee tried to organize her workplace.
The agreement between the two parties provided that management would not fire or interfere with the rights of employees to raise concerns and complaints 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 laid-off employees of the Wisconsin-based Colectivo Coffee chain, which has five locations in the Chicago area, filed a lawsuit against the chain.
They said their termination was retaliation for their involvement in the organizing committee of the Colectivo union.
The NLRB found the allegations to be of no merit.
In 2021, however, Colectivo’s pro-workers had the upper hand, forming the largest union workers in a US coffee chain.