Starbucks Posts Fake Union Tweets in Anti-Union Flyers

The tweets are made to look like they’re coming from accounts that don’t exist, or are dated in a way that makes them obviously fake, union organizers said.
Union organizers protesting Starbucks union-busting.
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Starbucks is posting union-busting flyers in stores that include fake tweets made to look like they’re from the union’s Twitter account, according to union leaders. 

The flyers show apparently doctored screenshots of tweets from the @SBWorkersUnited, which is the official account for the Starbucks unionization effort, and @one.starbucks.com, which doesn’t exist. According to the Starbucks union organizer the flyers appeared in stores in Pittsburgh and North Carolina.

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The faked tweets say things including “In collective bargaining, you start with everything you have and negotiate for more from there,” and “In collective bargaining, everything is up for negotiations. You could get more, the same or less. And once you negotiate a contract, you are locked in.”

When reached for comment, Starbucks union organizers directed Motherboard at a TikTok they posted Thursday, outlining several inconsistencies that show why the tweets included in Amazon’s anti-union flyers are fake.

The Tiktok points out that none of the tweets cited exist on the @SBWorkersUnited feed, and identical tweets with different dates repeated throughout the flyers. One of the tweets is dated June 1, and is missing a year in the screenshot; June 1, 2022 obviously hasn’t happened yet, and the SBWorkersUnited Twitter account was started in August 2021. @one.starbucks.com is clearly fake, because Twitter doesn’t allow usernames with periods in them. 

In addition to the fake tweets, the flyers, titled “You May Have Heard,” contain familiar anti-union rhetoric. “Please take the time to do your research, ask questions and above all, think for and be yourself,” they state. “You do not have to join a union. You should not sign anything presented by the union without reading it, fully understanding it and being fully informed as to what the impact on you, individually, will be.” They also claim that the Workers United union is “in the dues collection business,” and that “the Union has a lot to gain by organizing Starbucks locations. And partners will be the ones who pay.” 

A Starbucks spokesperson confirmed these were distributed at a store in Pittsburgh but did not provide more information.

The flyers appeared as Starbucks is facing a historic wave of unionization across multiple stores. In December 2021, the first Starbucks store unionized in Buffalo, N.Y., spurring on a nationwide drive at stores across the country. Starbucks has only tried to crush the growing unionization wave since then.. On Monday, Starbuck fired its fourth union organizer. 

“Unfortunately these leaflets are just yet another one of Starbucks' union busting tactics to lie, mislead, threaten and intimidate partners,” Casey Moore, a Starbucks barista who is helping unionize stores, told Motherboard. “Next time they try to write tweets for us though, they might want to try being a little bit more creative, and at least try to use believable dates.”