A judge of the US National Labor Relations Board is Order Starbucks and its CEO Howard Schultz to agree—on camera—not to suppress union activity, after ruling the coffee company illegally tried to suppress labor organizing at its Buffalo stores.
On Wednesday, Michael Rosas, an NLRB judge, ruled that Starbucks exhibited “gross and widespread misconduct that demonstrates a general disregard for the basic rights of employees,” and issued a broad order that forced the coffee company to operate nationwide.
Rosas agreed with labor organizers that Starbucks violated labor laws in trying to stop the union at its Buffalo stores, including sending high-ranking officials to “do back and forth and nothing.” ‘y same visits to stores to more closely supervise, monitor or create the impression that employees’ union activities are under surveillance.”
The judge’s order included a 13-page notice affirming the right of Starbucks employees to join a union, and a long list of pledges by the coffee company to stop joining. in the activity that is considered to hinder the organization of the union.
Schultz must read the notice, or be present as an NLRB representative reads the notice, at Starbucks’ Buffalo-area stores. The company must also record and distribute a video of the meeting, as well as paper copies of the notice posted in its stores nationwide.
The judge also ordered Starbucks to pay workers who he deemed were unlawfully punished for their union activism. In addition, Rosas concluded that Starbucks has polluted a failed union vote at a store in Buffalo, and ordered the company to negotiate with the union.
“This is a truly historic decision,” said Gary Bonadonna Jr., the regional head of Workers United, which helps Starbucks employees unionize. in a statement.
Starbucks did not immediately respond Fortune’s request for comment. The coffee company said it was “considering all options to obtain further legal review” in a statement to New York Times. Rosas’ order can be appealed to the full NLRB, and then to federal court.
Even if the appeals affirmed Rosas’ order, Schultz may not have been present to read the notice. Laxman Narasimhan will replace Howard Schultz as Starbucks’ CEO in April, ending the Schultz’s third movement as CEO of Starbucks.
The National Labor Relations Board is an independent US government agency that oversees unionization elections and investigates allegations of unfair labor practices. The NLRB previously ruled that Starbucks violated the labor law by retaliating against union activists.
Employees at a Starbucks store in Buffalo are the first of the coffee company’s workers UNIONS in December 2021. Since then, employees at hundreds of Starbucks stores have voted to join the union.
Also on Wednesday, dozens of Starbucks employees and managers signed an open letter complained about the company’s anti-union activity, as well as the order to return to the office. In January, Schultz ordered corporate employees to return to the office at least three days a week.
“We love Starbucks, but these actions have destroyed trust in Starbucks leadership,” the letter said.
However, Schultz believes that the union drive is caused by lack of leadership—in particular, his leadership. “The unions showed up because Starbucks was not leading in a way consistent with its history in terms of being a values-based company, and I came back to restore those values,” he said in an interview. on CNN last week.
Schultz also said unionization at companies like Starbucks and Apple indicative of deeper social issues. “I was shocked, stunned to hear the loneliness, anxiety, broken trust in government, broken trust in companies, broken family trust, lack of hope in terms of opportunity” among Starbucks employees, he said. CNN.
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