NICHOLS HILLS, Okla. (KFOR) — In a news release on Tuesday, Oct. 10, the National Right to Work Foundation announced that an employee at the Nichols Hills Starbucks location has filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to remove the Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) union from the workplace.
According to More Perfect Union, the Nichols Hills Starbucks located near 63rd and Grand unionized on May 6, 2022, with a narrow majority vote of 13-11 in their union election.
The employee, Amy Smith, provided this statement to News 4 explaining her decision to file the union decertification petition:
“My coworkers and I are very disappointed with the SBWU’s performance and we just want a chance to vote privately on whether they deserve to remain at our store. We have a right to do this under federal law, and the union should not seek to block us in the exercise of our rights.
“It is disheartening to read commentary from the union labeling us as ‘victims of union busting’, when this decision has been well thought out by each of us that signed the petition and represents our personal beliefs.”
NLRB rules state that in the event employees feel support for a union has diminished, they can file a petition for decertification after collecting signatures from at least 30 percent of workers, similar to the process for unionizing.
Following the petition filing, an election is held and a majority vote determines the outcome. Decertification elections are barred for a year following the union’s certification by the NLRB.
In the 2022 fiscal year, a total of 311 decertification petitions were filed, with 137 of them leading to elections. Out of those 137 elections in 2022, 54 resulted in a successful majority vote.
The Foundation says they are providing Smith with free legal representation through the union decertification process. They also state that since May, Starbucks employees in Manhattan, NY; Buffalo, NY; Pittsburgh, PA; Bloomington, MN; Salt Lake City, UT; and Greenville, SC have also sought free legal representation from the Foundation while petitioning for decertification.
National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix says that SBWU is more interested in political interest than the interests of workers.
“SBWU union officials are leveraging their legal privileges and the deep pockets of their affiliate, the Service Employees International Union, to try to install union control over as many Starbucks employees as they can as quickly as they can,” Mix stated. “But as Starbucks and other coffee employees across the country continue to try to flee the union’s power, it’s becoming clearer that the SBWU’s campaign is rooted more in generating political buzz and expanding union power than actually standing up for workers’ interests.
“Such union behavior is precisely why workers’ right to vote to remove unwanted union officials is so vital, and Foundation attorneys will continue to fight alongside Ms. Smith and numerous other coffee employees across the country to defend this right.”
News 4 reached out to the Oklahoma City chapter of SBWU comment following the decertification petition filing and received the follow response:
“At this union store and stores across the country we have been the victims of an unprecedented anti-union campaign that the company has spent millions of dollars that they could be spending on giving us more hours and raises. Management and higher level management has also been involved with this and the former decertification petition at this store.
“Starbucks denying raises and credit card tipping to its union stores and then scapegoating the union for it has caused partners to misdirect their blame and anger to the union rather than the company. Starbucks has committed numerous labor violations at this store along with hundreds across the country and is currently being prosecuted by the NLRB.
“We hope this company chooses to meet its partners at the bargaining table rather than harm workers by continuing its anti-union campaign.”Alisha Humphrey, former union partner of the 63rd & Grand location
The date for the decertification election has not been set as of October 17.