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Starbucks pressed to rehire seven union workers after National Labor Union Board files a petition in court

According to the NLRB, the seven workers were “unlawfully fired for exercising their right to form a union”.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The National Labor Relations Board filed a petition in a U.S. District Court Tuesday, May 10 on behalf of the seven Starbucks workers who were fired from the Starbucks located at 3388 Poplar Ave. in February after they tried to form a labor union.

According to the NLRB, Starbucks took unlawful disciplinary actions against the employees who made attempts to form a union, punishing the workers for exercising their rights.

In the petition, NLRB requested that the court issue injunctions against the Starbucks location that would force the employer to immediately reinstate the seven former workers who were fired. 

The board also requested that the employer be forced to “cease and desist” its unfair labor practices.

“Given Starbucks’ egregious conduct interfering with the federally protected rights of its employees, we are asking the Court to swiftly grant the injunction,” said NLRB Region 15 Regional Director Kathleen McKinney. “Without immediate interim relief from this Court, Starbucks could irreparably harm the campaign in Memphis, and send a chilling message to its employees across the country that they too will suffer the same fate as the terminated Memphis employees if they dare to exercise their right to engage in protected activities. It is crucial that these seven employees be reinstated, and that Starbucks cease its unlawful conduct immediately so that all Starbucks workers can fully and freely exercise their labor rights.”

The board said that five of six union members and two union activists were fired all on the same day after the the union campaign picked up media coverage and received substantial support from the public.

The petition also states that Starbucks took “coercive measures” to prevent other employees from joining the union. On May 3, Starbuck's CEO Howard Schultz announced that it would provide enhanced worker benefits, but only for stores without a union.

RELATED: Starbucks' Schultz announces enhanced worker benefits, but not for union stores

According to the petition filed, Starbucks allegedly removed all pro-union materials and notes written by customers who supported the union campaign from community bulletin boards in the store.

NLRB also claims that employers closed off areas of the store on days that union organizers pre-scheduled to invite customers who backed the union campaign in-store, preventing the public from showing support for the union campaign.

Protestors rallied in front of the Starbucks location back in February in response to the company's union busting practices. 

Credit: ABC24
Credit: WATN

Starbuck's original statements 

Starbucks issued a response statement after firing members of the union organizing committee, denying that the seven workers were fired because of their participation in organizing a union. 

The company said that the workers were fired for reasons that were unrelated to the union campaign, and they explained that the employees took actions that violated the store's safety and security policies.

RELATED: Formal complaint issued by NLRB against Starbucks for 'Memphis 7'

According to Starbucks, the employees who were fired allowed unauthorized individuals in the store after closing time, did not properly secure the store by leaving the door unlocked, and opened the safe without authorization.