retail news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  Bloomberg reports that "Starbucks Corp. employees are suing the company for defamation over its response to a union protest.

"In a lawsuit filed Monday in South Carolina state court, eight Starbucks workers accused the company of falsely and maliciously portraying them as criminals, and accused the company and the manager of making false statements to the police 'for the illegitimate collateral purpose of preventing plaintiffs from publicly protesting Starbucks.'

"The lawsuit stems from an Aug. 1 confrontation in which pro-union employees gathered inside the cafe and presented the manager with a letter asking for improvements such as higher pay.

"According to the lawsuit, the employees peacefully followed the manager to the store’s exit, repeating their request for a raise, and then the manager falsely claimed that the baristas were preventing her from leaving the building. The manager reported the workers to local law enforcement, whom she told that the staff 'would not let her leave until they got a raise,' and that one of them 'assaulted her,' according to a police report cited in the filing. Starbucks then suspended the plaintiffs, who deny they threatened the manager and accuse the company of abusing the legal process."

It is extraordinary how quickly the labor situation at Starbucks has devolved into this kind of stuff.  Sure, only about 250 stores out of 9,000 have voted pro-union, but the whole tenor of discourse and negotiation seems to be at odds with the company's longtime culture.  Keep in mind, this is not a complaint filed with the National Labor Relations Board - this is a court filing that seeks punitive and compensatory damages.


•  From the Associated Press:

"he nascent group that secured the first-ever union victory of an Amazon warehouse in the U.S. is set to face a crucial test on Tuesday, when votes from yet another election are set to be tallied.

Representatives from the National Labor Relations Board will be counting ballots cast by workers at a facility in the town of Schodack, near Albany, New York. Roughly 800 people are employed at the warehouse, according to Amazon.

"This will be the fourth union election at an Amazon warehouse this year, and the third one led by the Amazon Labor Union. The upstart group secured an unexpected win in April at a company warehouse on Staten Island but was stung by a loss shortly thereafter at another facility nearby.

"A union election in Alabama, led by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union at a warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, remains too close to call."