Starbucks Worker Asks Labor Board to Review Order Denying Vote to Remove Unwanted Union

Request for Review to full National Labor Relations Board says Regional Director erred in dismissing workers’ petition

Buffalo, NY (June 12, 2023) –National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have filed a Request for Review with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, D.C. This requests asks the Board to reverse a Regional Director’s order dismissing a workers’ petition for a decertification election on whether to remove the so-called Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) union, an affiliate of Service Employee International Union (SEIU). The request is part of a case that began when Ariana Cortes, a Buffalo Starbucks worker, filed a petition with the NLRB requesting the decertification election be held at the “Del Chip” Starbucks location where she works.

Cortes’ decertification petition, which was filed on April 28, has support from a majority of her coworkers who also want to remove the union from their workplace. After her initial filing, Cortes began receiving free legal assistance from National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys.

“They have treated us like pawns, promising us that we could remove them after a year if we no longer wanted their representation, and are now trying to stop us from exercising our right to vote,” Cortes said in a statement about why so many of her coworkers support removing the union. “It’s obvious they care more about power and control than respecting our individual rights.”

Under federal law, workers can trigger an NLRB-supervised decertification election with the signatures of 30% or more of the employees in a workplace. After receiving the petition, NLRB officials should then promptly move to schedule an election. However, on May 25, the NLRB Region 3 Regional Director issued an order dismissing the decertification petition.

In response to this order, Cortes’s Foundation staff attorneys filed the request for review with the four member NLRB in Washington, DC. The filing emphasizes the wishes of the employees to continue with the decertification process to remove the monopoly union representation that lacks the support of a majority of the workers, which is a fundamental principle of the National Labor Relations Act that the NLRB is charged with enforcing.

The brief also observes that the grounds for blocking the vote is contradicted by the NLRB allowing union-backed certification elections to proceed. The result is that the SEIU is like a roach motel, easy to enter but impossible to leave.

“The Region dismissed her petition and disenfranchised her and her fellow employees of the right to choose their representative—the same right that has been granted over 350 times to employees seeking certification,” the brief states.

            So far, workers at three different Starbucks locations in New York State have filed decertification petitions. In addition to the Del Chip store, Foundation staff attorneys also represent the petitioner in the Starbucks Roastery case, where a majority of workers also support the decertification effort.

The Foundation has also issued a legal notice to all Starbucks employees, offering free legal aid to any worker who may be interested in removing SBWU’s so-called “representation” from their workplace:  

“Workers have a statutory right to decertify a union they oppose, and it is outrageous that the Regional Director has so callously moved to disenfranchise these workers of that right,” commented National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation President Mark Mix. “The NLRB must reverse course and cease acting like its mission is simply to protect incumbent union officials against workers who are opposed to unions’ so-called representation.”

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