The surprise union victories at Starbucks in recent months were an inspiration to millions around the United States. But Starbucks is now pulling out all the stops to engage in one of the most flagrant union-busting campaigns in recent memory.

By John Logan, Jacobin

There seems little doubt at this point that Howard Schultz deserves the title of the nation’s worst union buster. Since returning to Starbucks as CEO in April, Schultz has overseen a scorched-earth policy against Starbucks workers who are trying to organize nationwide. His latest tactic: terrify workers with the threat of store closures. Along with the termination of union activists, the threat of workplace closures has been among employers’ most chilling anti-union tactics for decades.

Activists march at the Starbucks Worker Solidarity Rally in support of unionization for baristas and other retail workers.

Starbucks has almost nine thousand corporate-owned stores in the United States. It closes stores for all sorts of reasons. But the company just so happened to recently close sixteen stores for “safety” reasons, and has threatened that “there will be many more in the midst of a successful union campaign.

Starbucks Workers United has now won two hundred elections over the past seven months, fifty-two of them unanimously. But it has also seen a ferocious and unlawful anti-union campaign. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has over two hundred open unfair labor practice cases against Starbucks, a number that most companies would take years to rack up, and Starbucks is currently facing a trial in which the NLRB says it committed over two hundred individual violations of labor law in Buffalo alone during the initial campaign last fall. Workers say Starbucks fired them, threatened them, spied on them, offered them unlawful benefits, and forced them to listen to hours and hours of group and individual anti-union meetings. And it closed stores.

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