Starbucks ruled in violation of federal labor laws against employees unionizing

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – A judge ruled the national coffee chain Starbucks violated federal labor law dozens of times.

This comes after a year-long investigation, dozens of charges, hundreds of allegations, and months of trial. News10NBC spoke with a former employee of Starbucks in Rochester who believes he was fired because of Starbucks union-busting. And now with this judge’s decision, Starbucks is required to give him his job back.

According to the judge’s decision, Starbucks violated laws that affected workers who were organizing a union not only here in Rochester but in Buffalo and  around the country. 

“It’s a good feeling,” said former employee Brian Nuzzo. “That they are forced to recognize, what they did. Even though Howard Schultz continuously says he does not union bust.”

Well, the judge thought differently because Starbucks workers in Buffalo and Rochester are getting their jobs back after being fired in retaliation for unionizing. Starbucks now has to reinstate seven workers illegally terminated in retaliation for their union activity. Nuzzo is none of them.

He was a chef supervisor at the Monroe Avenue Starbucks in Brighton for 4.5 years. He was also the lead union organizer for his store. 

“So that involved getting people on board,” said Nuzzo. “Getting interest, handing out the cards, kind of detailing what the union is, what we want to do what we want out of it. And it was very clear that they knew I was an organizer.”

Nuzzo says they filed to become unionized in January 2022. He was fired two months later in March.

“Our election was on April 7 so they fired me less than three weeks before our actual vote to unionize,” said Nuzzo. “So I didn’t even get to vote. Well I did try to but they contested it and my vote didn’t count because I was already fired.”

Brian says he was the only employee in Rochester fired. However there were employees in Buffalo and over a hundred around the country who were fired.

He says Starbucks refused to bargain with and walked out on them at the bargaining table.

“They gave raises to a lot of the stores but the union stores,” Nuzzo said. “They neglected the union stores. They said that we didn’t have our contracts yet to be able to negotiate raises.”

Starbucks said Wednesday it believes the decision and the remedies ordered are inappropriate and is considering its legal options. The parties in the case have until March 28 to file an appeal to the full National Labor Relations Board.

Starbucks said the individuals in the case were fired for clear violations of the company’s policies, and not because of union activities. Starbucks has 30 days to make an appeal.