Submitted on Thu, 10/02/2008 - 7:09pm
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By LAUREN SHEPHERD - NEW YORK (AP) -- Starbucks Corp. has settled a National Labor Relations
Board complaint with an employee who said he was fired this summer for promoting
The agreement marks the gourmet coffee chain's third settlement of an NLRB
complaint alleging the company was attempting to dissuade employees from joining
The settlement stemmed from a complaint filed in July by Minneapolis
barista Erik Forman who claimed he was fired for encouraging workers to join the
Industrial Workers of the World union. He was fired July 10 after he received a
"final written warning" for showing up half an hour late to work. The warning
followed two earlier tardy notices.
Starbucks then reversed its decision and hired Forman back in August,
saying the initial firing was "ill-considered." Starbucks, though, said Forman's
firing had nothing to do with his activity in the union.
"We view this settlement of the NLRB charge as confirming the steps we
already took to make things right in this situation," Starbucks said in a
When Starbucks gave Forman his job back, the company asked him to
voluntarily withdraw his NLRB complaint, but he decided to move forward with
Marlin Osthus, acting regional director for the NLRB in Minneapolis, said
the board concluded after an investigation that there was "enough evidence" that
Forman was unlawfully fired for participating in "concerted protected
activities" which are typically group activities that attempt to improve working
Once the NLRB determines a complaint has merit, the board proposes a
settlement between the company and the person who filed the complaint.
Osthus confirmed that the board followed that procedure in Forman's
Under the terms of the settlement, Starbucks will post a notice in Forman's
store for 60 days informing workers they have a right to unionize under federal
law. Starbucks will also remove from its files any reference to Forman's firing
and will repay him for any loss of earnings.
In 2006, Starbucks entered into a settlement with the NLRB to resolve a
complaint filed by New York City workers attempting to organize a union at a
Starbucks store. In that settlement, Starbucks rehired two employees that had
been fired and posted a notice in three stores for 60 days affirming the rights
of workers to unionize.
Starbucks also settled with the NLRB in a 2007 Grand Rapids, Mich., case
that involved bulletin board postings and an alleged comment made by a manager
that an employee said was threatening.
Starbucks has said it did not admit to any wrongdoing in either of the
previous settlement agreements and that the company decided to settle the cases
to save both time and expense for all parties.
Starbucks shares climbed 13 cents to $15 in afternoon
IWW Starbucks Workers Union