© 2024 WRVO Public Media
NPR News for Central New York
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Ithaca Starbucks union-busting case moves forward with initial victory for organizers

Organizers are boycotting Ithaca Starbucks locations after the company shut down a recently unionized store in Collegetown. (Vaughn Golden/WSKG)
Vaughn Golden
Organized workers in Ithaca scored an initial victory in their union-busting complaints against Starbucks.

A judge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is siding with former Starbucks workers in the first step of a likely legal battle surrounding union-busting allegations at the coffee chain's three Ithaca locations.

Deputy Chief Administrative Law Judge Arthur Amchan ruled that Starbucks engaged in tactics that violated federal labor law, including improperly disciplining and firing union employees. Amchan also asserts that reducing hours and eventually shuttering the chain’s three locations in Ithaca, without engaging in bargaining with the union, also constituted grounds for a violation.

“Another win for workers!” Starbucks Workers United, a group promoting unionization efforts at the chain wrote on Twitter after the ruling.

The judge’s decision orders Starbucks to provide back pay to a number of workers who were terminated. He also ordered the chain to immediately reopen its Collegetown location.

While the ruling represents a win for the organizers, in order for any of the judge’s remedies to actually be binding, the NLRB will have to take the matter to federal court where it’s almost certain to continue facing legal challenges.

“Where claims have been filed against Starbucks that we believe are unfounded, we continue to defend the company and the rights of our partners as matters are fully adjudicated by the NLRB and federal courts,” a Starbucks spokesperson wrote in a statement to WSKG.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.