A former Starbucks manager in the Buffalo area testified under oath before a labor board judge that higher-ups told him to single out pro-union employees for disciplinary action, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.
David Almond, a Buffalo-area manager who resigned from the company in January, testified during an August National Labor Relations Board hearing that managers who were sent to his store after the union effort went public read him a list of pro-union employees. In one case, Almond said, he was encouraged by a district manager to go through the files of a longtime employee to target her with disciplinary action.
“She said go through her files,” Almond said, according to a transcript obtained by Bloomberg via a FOIA request. “She’s a long-term partner. I’m sure there’s something in there we can use against her.”
On another occasion, Almond testified, a district manager told him to make sure at least one manager was always working at the store. “She said, this way, the partners won’t feel comfortable talking about the union, and if they do, then you should discourage them,” Almond testified, according to Bloomberg. “She made me rewrite all the schedules so that there was a manager on from open all the way till close.”
Almond resigned from the company in January, Bloomberg reported. “I didn’t want to do illegal stuff,” Almond testified, according to Bloomberg. “I’ve worked my entire life to build up a career of integrity, and I was not going to allow Starbucks to take that from me.”
Starbucks has repeatedly insisted that it has not targeted pro-union workers with retaliation, even though more than 100 such employees have been fired this year nationwide. NLRB regional offices have issued more than 30 complaints against the company, covering well over 100 unfair labor practice charges filed by Starbucks employees across the country, the NLRB said last month.
The company did not respond to an email from VICE News seeking comment Tuesday, but denied Almond’s claims and said it “respect[s] the right of all partners to make their decisions regarding union issues, whether they favor or oppose representation.”
Starbucks Workers United, the union representing workers, told VICE News in a statement Tuesday that Almond’s testimony “corroborated what workers have now been saying for over a year — Starbucks and [CEO] Howard Schultz will do whatever it takes to crush our union.”
“Starbucks has made managers, like David, choose between keeping their job or breaking the law.”
Of the more than 300 stores that have voted on a union this year, Starbucks employees have voted to unionize at 80 percent of them, or nearly 250 stores, according to NLRB statistics.
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