NLRB squares off with Starbucks (again)- POLITICO


ALL EYES ON THE QUEEN CITY: Today, lawyers for the National Labor Relations Board and Starbucks will appear before an administrative law judge in Buffalo, N.Y., which was ground zero for a unionization drive last year that has taken off and reverberated far beyond the coffee company.

The NLRB accused Starbucks of more than 200 labor law violations spanning over two dozen types of unfair labor practices, dating back to the early days of the organizing campaign at several stores in the region.

The charges range from intimating that workers’ benefits could improve “if they refrained from union organizational activity” to “selectively and disparately” welding workplace rules against pro-union employees and “creating the impression” that workers were being surveilled by higher ups, among other tactics.

The hearing is likely to span several weeks, and the ALJ decision may not be handed down until months afterward, potentially spilling into 2023 — especially if the ruling is appealed to the NLRB board.

The agency is seeking to force Starbucks to reinstate several employees it argues were illegally fired for their pro-union activity, as well as impose a so-called Gissel bargaining order at one store where the NLRB says the election results were irreparably tainted by the company’s actions.

But NLRB’s biggest potential victory would be for the judge to order a nationwide cease-and-desist order that would be disseminated at Starbucks stores throughout the U.S. and likely further weaken the company’s ability to counter Starbucks Workers United’s ascent. The union is fast approaching 200 victories at stores across the country and is winning about four elections for every one it does not.

Though the agency under General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo has put other high-profile employers — including Amazon — in its crosshairs, Starbucks continues to stand out. Of the dozen times the NLRB has petitioned a federal district court judge for a 10(j) injunction, three of them have been against the coffee giant. (No other company has faced multiple such lawsuits.)

For its part the company has vigorously denied wrongdoing — both as it relates to this consolidated complaint and elsewhere — and Starbucks’ returning CEO Howard Schultz has refused to back down.

Already it secured one major legal victory in early June when a federal judge in Phoenix, John Tuchi, denied the local NLRB regional director’s request for one such injunction in order to reinstate three terminated workers.

Separate from the administrative proceeding scheduled for Monday, the Buffalo regional office is also pursuing a 10(j) order against Starbucks. Oral arguments for that case are set to begin mid-September.

GOOD MORNING. It’s Monday, July 11. Welcome back to Morning Shift, your go-to tipsheet on employment and immigration news. Send feedback, tips, exclusives and whether you know what a golden birthday is to [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow us on Twitter at @eleanor_mueller and @nickniedz.

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DOBBS DECISION REIGNITES CARE POLICY TALKS: So-called care policies like paid leave and child care are back in the spotlight as more than eight states move to ban abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe, Eleanor reports for Women Rule.

Despite entreaties from Republicans to find ways to support expectant mothers as abortion is made illegal — indeed, the court’s conservative majority explicitly references such safety nets in its opinion — none of the eight GOP-run governments guarantee paid family or medical leave to workers. Several do not offer state child tax credits or any protections for pregnant workers. Only two — West Virginia and Oklahoma — boast some form of universal pre-K. And many also have lengthy waiting lists to receive funds from the Child Care and Development Block Grant program, which provides subsidies to qualifying low-income families.

Asked about paths forward, Democratic leaders indicate a redoubled focus on ensuring that any future reconciliation package includes investment in child care and paid leave. Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) unveiled a revamped proposal earlier this year that would spend up to $200 billion on expanding families’ access through CCDBG.

Murray, who chairs the Senate HELP Committee, told Eleanor: “I have never, and will never, stop fighting to protect the fundamental rights of women or to make sure they can get the child care they need — including by investing in child care within reconciliation.”

Others, like House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.), focused on paid leave in the wake of Dobbs: “Republicans have made a habit out of not listening to women,” he said. “We’ve seen it on paid leave, and we are seeing it on health care. Women are the experts on their own lives, and Democrats will continue fighting for policies that reflect that.”

It remains to be seen what will make it into Democrats’ reconciliation package — and what, if anything, Republicans will be open to should lawmakers pursue a bipartisan path forward. Care advocates say recent GOP proposals on issues like paid leave and child care as insufficient.

“We’re already starting to see [Republicans pay] lip service to the idea of supporting families but we haven’t yet seen policies that would absolutely do that,” Vicki Shabo, who studies paid leave at New America, said. “This is a moment of reckoning.”

MORE HILL NEWS: Advocate group calls for bill shielding minor-league players from MLB’s antitrust exemption,” from The Athletic.

COMMERCE CHIEF CALLS OUT BARRIERS TO WOMEN AT WORK: Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Sunday that women’s access to participating in the workforce remains a serious barrier to the economy, our Annie Bryan reports. 

Specifically, “reproductive health is on everybody’s mind, [because] that’s going to hurt the economy,” she said.

“We have to be there for these women to get child care,” Raimondo said. “You know, child care, health care, skills … so that they’re able to get jobs that are available today and be providing members of the workforce.”

Hands tied? “A lot of the things that are coming the president’s way, he doesn’t have a silver bullet to solve,” she said. “I mean, these issues have to be solved by Congress, or in this case, the Supreme Court and Congress.”

CHECKING IN ON THE PORTS: Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said Friday the Biden administration is still patiently monitoring contract negotiations at West Coast ports — though that may soon change.

Speaking on Bloomberg TV, Walsh said he “feels good” about the direction of labor talks — even as the contract officially ran out at the start of July — but a deal needs to start coming together quickly.

“Next month if I come on this show … [and] we’re not close to a contract, then you and I might be having a very different conversation.”

LABOR MARKET STAYS HOT: Employers added 372,000 jobs in June, well above economists’ expectations and down only slightly from 384,000 in May — signaling that “the job market remains resilient even as fears of recession grip both Wall Street and Washington,” our Kate Davidson and Victoria Guida report.

Robust job growth has been one of the few bright spots for Biden on a darkening economic horizon, and administration officials have repeatedly touted the numbers as evidence of the economy’s underlying strength. Yet slowing the labor market down is essential to helping tame consumer prices that are rising at a faster pace than most Americans have seen in their lifetimes.

“They’re in a pickle, because they need inflation to come down, and inflation probably isn’t coming down until the labor market weakens significantly,” said Andy Laperriere, head of U.S. policy at Piper Sandler. “So regardless of whether this number looks good, bad or somewhere in the middle, it has to get worse in order for the Fed to feel like progress is being made on inflation and stop tightening.”

RELATED: Unemployment rate for Black women fell in June, but so did their participation in the labor force,” from CNBC.

MORE WORKPLACE NEWS: Tech’s Red-Hot Hiring Spree Shows Signs of Cooling,” from The Wall Street Journal.

RAIL WORKERS PREP FOR NEXT STEP: Freight rail workers held a demonstration Sunday in Lincoln, Nebraska, near a key linkage in the country’s supply chain infrastructure.

It is one of several moves that labor leaders are teeing up to rally support among members and the public ahead of a July 18 deadline for the White House to appoint a Presidential Emergency Board to resolve an ongoing labor dispute between unionized rail workers and the freight industry.

“We’re focused on making sure people are educated about how we got to this point; what our concerns are; what we want, for the members that we represent,” AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department President Greg Regan told Shift.

If an agreement is not reached in the coming weeks, a work stoppage looms in September — a possibility that has business groups on edge ahead of the holiday shopping season.

That it overlaps with separate negotiations along the West Coast ports only heightens the complexity for a White House that has had to be sensitive to supply chain concerns and has vowed to be a steadfast supporter of organized labor.

“At its core this is a supply chain issue, and if we have any hope of solving the supply chain crisis that we’re in we need to make sure that the workers who are responsible for [the supply chain] are paid what they’re worth,” Regan said.

MORE UNION NEWS:Americans have lost confidence in everything from organized religion to Congress, but their faith in unions is staying strong,” from Business Insider.

BRICK CITY BACKOUT: Amazon has scuttled a plan to set up a cargo hub at the Newark airport, the second time the company has abandoned an expansion effort in the area in recent years following opposition from unions and local groups.

“‘Unfortunately, the Port Authority and Amazon have been unable to reach an agreement on final lease terms and mutually concluded that further negotiations will not resolve the outstanding issues,’ Huntley Lawrence, the Port Authority’s chief operating officer, said in a statement on Thursday,” the New York Times reports“,”link”:{“target”:”NEW”,”attributes”:[],”url”:””,”_id”:”00000182-13d2-d4b0-adfb-d3f7db240000″,”_type”:”33ac701a-72c1-316a-a3a5-13918cf384df”},”_id”:”00000182-13d2-d4b0-adfb-d3f7db240001″,”_type”:”02ec1f82-5e56-3b8c-af6e-6fc7c8772266″}”>the New York Times reports.

“Advocacy groups and unions involved had said they could not support the lease unless Amazon made a set of concessions that included labor agreements and a zero-emissions benchmark at the facility.”

MORE STATE NEWS:Big Cities Can’t Get Workers Back to the Office,” from The Wall Street Journal.

DEMS PRESS BIDEN ON VENEZUELAN PROTECTIONS: Democrats in Congress are leaning on the Biden administration to extend temporary protections for Venezuelan exiles living in the U.S., our Sabrina Rodriguez reports.

Officials face a deadline on Monday to make a decision on whether to offer Temporary Protection Status to an estimated 250,000 Venezuelans currently ineligible because they arrived in the U.S. after the March 2021 eligibility date.

Officials in the White House have expressed concern that a TPS redesignation would incentivize more migration to the U.S. southern border and prompt fresh criticism from Republicans on the president’s handling of immigration policy.

More immigration news: “Patrol agents on horseback did not whip migrants, but used force and inappropriate language, investigators say,” from POLITICO.

— “Big-Sounding Job Titles Are Feeding Egos in Tight Labor Market,” from Bloomberg.

— “Dire US labor shortage provides opportunity for ex-prisoners,” from the Associated Press.

— “More workers without degrees are landing jobs. Will it last?,” from the Washington Post.

— “Some Surprising Good News: Bookstores Are Booming and Becoming More Diverse,” from The New York Times.


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