Starbucks asks labor board to suspend all mail ballot elections after misconduct allegations raised

Over 220 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize

Starbucks is calling on the chairman of the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) to immediately suspend all mail-in union elections after claiming that labor board personnel engaged in misconduct with union representatives to tip the elections in their favor. 

In a letter sent to the chairman and general counsel of the NLRB, Starbucks – which is facing growing union efforts nationwide – said it has been made aware by an NLRB career professional that labor board officials in the Kansas City area "and elsewhere engaged in highly improper, systemic misconduct" in elections between Starbucks and Workers United, which has been leading the union effort since December. 

The NLRB career professional claimed that board officials secretly coordinated with union officials to arrange for in-person voting to take place at labor board offices during NLRB-ordered "mail-ballot" elections, according to the letter. Labor board officials also gave union representatives confidential information regarding specific vote counts that "enabled the union to target and influence employees who have not yet voted," Starbucks said.  


It was also alleged that board officials disenfranchised employees (otherwise known as partners) who were not given the same opportunity to cast in-person votes, collaborated with union representatives to "cover up this misbehavior" and increase the number of pro-union votes to the outcome of elections.

Starbucks workers union

Starbucks employees and supporters react as votes are read during a union-election watch party on Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, in Buffalo, New York. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex / AP Images)

Starbucks said it was made aware by the whistleblower that there were documents and emails between board officials and union representatives that show there was misconduct at the Overland Park store in Kansas City.

These documents showed, in part, that "board personnel have secretly colluded with the Union to affect multiple stages" of the election process, including providing, returning and counting of ballots, according to Starbucks.


"The purpose of this misconduct was to tip-the-scale in order to deliver the outcome sought by the Union," Starbucks wrote. "The result of the misconduct was to ignore—and bypass—the actual sentiments that Starbucks partners may have expressed in properly conducted elections."

Starbucks said it has been made aware that misconduct has occurred in other cases between Starbucks and Starbucks Workers United in other labor board regions. 

Starbucks union

Pro-union pins sit on a table during a watch party for Starbucks' employees union election, Dec. 9, 2021, in Buffalo, New York.  (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File / AP Newsroom)

Starbucks is requesting all current, pending and future mail ballot elections be suspended until there has been a thorough investigation from NLRB Inspector General David Berry into the matter and that "the outcome has been made public, and safeguards to prevent future misconduct have been implemented." 


In addition to conducting an investigation, Starbucks is asking Berry to audit regarding improprieties that could have occurred in other Starbucks cases throughout the nation

More than 220 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize. The company has opposed the unionization efforts made by employees.

National Labor Relations Board spokesperson Kayla Blado told FOX Business that the labor board does not comment on open cases. 

Blado said the "agency has well-established processes to raise challenges regarding the handling of both election matters and unfair labor practice cases" and that "those challenges should be raised in filings specific to the particular matters in question." 

She added that the regional staff and board "will carefully and objectively consider any challenges raised through these established channels, which include opportunities to seek expedited review in both representation and unfair labor practice cases."