Monday, October 24, 2022

This is what buyers’ remorse looks like

On May 9, 2022, the baristas working at the Starbucks store located at 1123 NW 63rd St., Nichols Hills, OK 73116 voted 10-9 to unionize. It was the first unionized Starbucks in the State of Oklahoma.

On the heels of the "victory," Collin Pollitt, the barista that led the unionization movement in that region, said this: "Today, we have become true partners in our organizing for a more just labor structure, where workers have a say in their workplace and earn a baseline living wage. We have reined in corporate power, and we carry on the banner of Martin Luther King Jr. with the idea that all labor has dignity."

A mere 163 days later, however, it appears that the store's employees have caught a case of buyer's remorse, as they have filed a decertification petition with the National Labor Relations Board. Unfortunately for them, however, whether they still want to be unionized or not, their petition and decertification effort is doomed to fail, and they will be stuck with their union, at least until May 9, 2023.

They are stuck because of what known as the "election bar" rule. Under section 9(c)(3) of the National Labor Relations Act, employees cannot seek a decertification election during the 12-month period immediately following their representation election. The statute provides for this bar to provide the union and the employer with a reasonable amount of time to bargain their first contract. Thus, the Nicols Hills decertification petition is invalid, and unless something really, really out of bounds happens, the NLRB will dismiss it.

What are the odds that the Starbucks Workers United told employees during the organizing process that once the union is voted in, it couldn't be voted out for a year? Employers, if you're not telling employees this legal fact during organizing, you're missing a golden opportunity.

In fact, this example should become bulletin board material for employer during every organizing drive moving forward. "Employees, know what you're voting for. If you vote for the union, the law prohibits you from voting them out for at least a year. Just ask the employees at the Starbucks at 1123 NW 63rd St. Just a few months after voting for the union, they had a serious case of buyer's remorse. But the NLRB said, 'No, you're stuck with the union for at least a year; you voted for it, now deal with it.' Do you want to be stuck with the union if you change your mind in a month, or six months, or nine months from now? Make sure you know what you're voting for, so that you don't get stuck with a choice that you later regret."

It's a powerful message, and thanks to a group of employees in Starbucks Workers United, it's now available to employers everywhere.