Since being the first location to unionize in Maine, workers at the Alfred Street Starbucks in Biddeford have yet to get a seat at the bargaining table to discuss our first contract. And anti-union activity at our store is still ongoing. The Biddeford Starbucks is currently the only unionized Starbucks cafe in Maine after the location in Portland’s Old Port was closed late last year shortly after the workers voted to unionize. Despite a recent settlement with the National Labor Relations Board, Starbucks’ Alfred Street location continues to unlawfully block workers from displaying union information in our store. In response, Starbucks Workers United store in Biddeford sent a letter to Starbucks District Manager Ben Persenaire on Sunday detailing these violations.
The full text of the letter can be read below:
Dear Ben Persenaire and to whomever else this may concern,
We, the unionized partners of store #48490 in Biddeford, are writing in response to the denial of our rights and blatant disregard of labor laws.
The National Labor Relations Board proposed a settlement to Starbucks at the hearing on March 1-2. Starbucks mostly agreed, but wanted to include a clause stating that they did nothing wrong. Starbucks proceeded to make a motion to the judge to force the NLRB to accept the settlement. Even though Starbucks won the motion, the decision to implement a settlement was a victory for us. The key language that Starbucks said in this settlement states “WE WILL NOT discriminatorily remove or discriminatorily prohibit the posting of union materials on our community boards and back of house fridges.” As stated under the National Labor Relations Act, “It is illegal for your employer to prohibit you from distributing union literature during non-working time, in non-working areas such as parking lots or break rooms.”
Despite the settlement, partners at store #48490 in Biddeford were denied the ability to hang union literature in a dedicated space. This board was intended to be hung in the break room area of the store, and be a central space for partners to obtain information involving the union in their workplace. We deserve better than having to post union information just on fridges, we deserve to have our information displayed in a dedicated space, similar to our community board.
Starbucks has violated labor laws over 1,200 times and the NLRB has issued over 70 complaints. It is disheartening, and many partners have expressed weariness from “being taken advantage of” and “being bullied by a company that calls its workers ‘partners’ but refuses to listen to us when we are begging to be heard”. We demand that the blatant union-busting campaign comes to an end in hopes that we will be permitted our right to at least display union literature in our break room without fear of retaliation. By not listening to our request you show that you do not respect us or our rights. The Biddeford store, along with hundreds of stores across the country, have waited months for Starbucks to bargain in an accessible way and union partner representatives still have yet to even have a seat at the table. We have been waiting for the company to agree upon a day and time to meet with us to discuss a contract, yet you deny access to our chosen committee. We have been denied bargaining, and we are now being denied our right to display union information with dignity. By law this cannot continue.
We make the Biddeford store run every day. We demand respect and dignity and the constant backlash has not broken our spirit. We are going to continue the fight to unionize more stores as a collective unit and we will continue until our voices are heard and respected. It is time for you to halt the union busting tactics and accept that you cannot stop the movement. Our hope is that you will get used to saying the name Starbucks Workers United, because we are here to stay.
The partners of store #48490 in Biddeford
And others who wish to remain anonymous