In a sign that federal labor officials are closely scrutinizing management behavior during union campaigns, the National Labor Relations Board said Friday that it had found merit in accusations that Amazon and Starbucks had violated labor law.
At Amazon, the labor board found merit to charges that the company had required workers to attend anti-union meetings at a vast Staten Island warehouse where the Amazon Labor Union won a stunning election victory last month. The determination was communicated to the union Friday by an attorney for the labor board’s regional office in Brooklyn, according to Seth Goldstein, a lawyer representing the union.
Such meetings, often known as “captive audience” meetings, are legal under current labor board precedent. But last month, the board’s general counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, issued a memo saying that the precedent was at odds with the underlying federal statute, and she indicated that she would seek to challenge it.
In the same filing of charges, the Amazon Labor Union accused the company of threatening to withhold benefits from employees if they voted to unionize, and of inaccurately indicating to employees that they could be fired if the warehouse were to unionize and they failed to pay union dues. The labor board also found merit to these accusations, according to an email from the attorney at the regional office, Matt Jackson.
In a statement, Starbucks Workers United, the branch of the union representing workers there, said that the finding “confirms the extent and depravity of Starbucks’s conduct in Western New York for the better part of a year.” It added: “Starbucks will be held accountable for the union-busting minefield they forced workers to walk through in fighting for their right to organize.”
Starbucks said in a statement that the complaint doesn’t constitute a judgment by the labor board, adding, “We believe the allegations contained in the complaint are false, and we look forward to presenting our evidence when the allegations are adjudicated.”