Two Colorado Starbucks employees – and thousands of supporters nationwide – celebrate recent win for unionized workers

· Feb. 9, 2024, 2:03 pm
Starbucks employees and their supporters picket outside of a shop on East Colfax Avenue. March 11, 2022.Starbucks employees and their supporters picket outside of a shop on East Colfax Avenue. March 11, 2022.Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
Starbucks employees and their supporters picket outside of a shop on East Colfax Avenue. March 11, 2022.

This week, over 9,500 members of Starbucks Workers United celebrated a major victory in Colorado for the union.

Two baristas who supported union formation at their Starbucks locations in Denver and Colorado Springs won a ruling that ordered the company to reinstate them to their former positions and backfill their lost wages and benefits.

The ruling was reached on Wednesday. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that the Starbucks employees were unlawfully terminated after trying to unionize. This violates the National Labor Relations Act.

In addition to those violations, Starbucks was found to have carried out unfair labor practices compromising the union election at the Colorado Springs branch at Academy Blvd. and Flintridge Dr. The judge concluded that the company engaged in “objectionable conduct” during a mail-in ballot union election held at this location in the spring of 2022. A new election was ordered as a part of the judge’s ruling.

Union supporter and barista Ryan Dinaro, the Starbucks employee unlawfully terminated from Denver’s Tremont location in June 2022, can now resume his work.

“I am planning to return to Starbucks to fight for a contract because my coworkers deserve better,” said Dinaro in a statement released by Starbucks Workers United. He argued that workers deserve reliable hours so they can consistently pay their bills and tuition, as well as maintain their healthcare. He also urged that employees “deserve a standard pay raise schedule so they don't need to beg management” for raises.

Dinaro also addressed another pressing issue facing employees – workplace safety. Workers “deserve safety committees to remind management that attempted robbery, menacing, and assault on property is not normal,” he said, “and security upgrades are desperately needed.” 

Starbucks was also ordered to cease disciplining or discharging workers for being union supporters. This includes a ban on interrogating employees regarding union activity; threatening employees with retaliation if they vote for a union; and any manner “interfering, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of their rights.” The company was also ordered to post a notice of workers’ rights granted under federal law in the two Colorado stores.

In an ongoing effort, members of Starbucks Workers United are demanding that the coffee giant end illegal union-busting tactics and bargain in good faith with workers who voted to form a union. 

The NLRB has more than 500 pending cases of Starbucks’ “flagrant disregard” for labor law and NLRB judges have ruled that Starbucks has violated labor laws over 100 times, according to the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions

Additionally, in nearly 50 separate decisions, federal administrative judges have found that Starbucks has committed more than 370 violations of federal labor law, including 42 unlawful firings, refusing to bargain, and unlawfully providing non-union workers higher wages and better benefits than workers who voted to form a union, according to a statement released by Starbucks Workers United.

Still, Starbucks union workers remain determined. Since December 2021, more than 390 Starbucks stores in 42 states and the District of Columbia have successfully unionized — more than any other company in the 21st Century.

“The only way to improve conditions is to stand up and fight back. (Starbucks) can ignore federal law to try to scare us into submission, but my case is proof that the law will catch up. When we organize, we have a right to fight for fair, safe conditions. When we organize we win.”

— Ryan Dinaro, Starbucks employee unlawfully terminated for participation in union activity

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