Starbucks illegally fired four workers and broke dozens of federal labor laws in its attempt to thwart baristas’ efforts to form unions in some of the company’s Pittsburgh cafes, a National Labor Relations Board judge has ruled.
The four workers — Tori Tambellini, Brett Taborelli, Kimberly Manfre and James Greene — all were purged because of their “union and other protected activities,” according to the 50-page ruling, issued Friday by Judge Robert A. Ringler. He ordered Starbucks to rehire the four workers within 14 days and make them “whole for any loss of earnings and other benefits” the workers suffered as a result of discriminatory treatment they suffered at the hands of the coffee company.
The ruling also found that, as part of the company’s union-busting campaign, Starbucks interrogated and surveilled employees about union activity and threatened employees by saying that, if they unionized, their stores would be closed and workers would lose the ability to transfer to other stores.
Starbucks stores involved in the case include locations at Market Square in Downtown Pittsburgh, on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield, at Penn Center East shopping center in Wilkins and on South Craig Street in Oakland.
The baristas union, Starbucks Workers United, issued a statement calling the ruling “a huge victory” for the company’s workers.
“We have known since day one that our firings were illegal, and this decision is incredibly validating to us,” said Tori Tambellini, one of the fired workers. “I’m excited to return to my job after spending the past year growing my organizing skills, because there’s nothing more meaningful to me than being on the shop floor with my co-workers, fighting for the contract that we know we deserve.”
She called the ruling a “searing indictment of Starbucks’ illegal and vicious union-busting campaign.”
Brett Taborelli, another of the fired workers, said he chose to “stand not in comfort and convenience” but to “stick up for my friends at my store and baristas across the country. I’m excited to come back and continue organizing and show workers it’s worth it to stand up.”
In its statement, the union noted that the federal government is currently prosecuting Starbucks for approximately 75 complaints alleging more than 1,300 violations — including 77 firings. “This makes the Coffee Giant one of the worst violators of labor law in modern U.S. history,” the union said.
(This story will be updated)