Starbucks in the soup with the NLRB again
Jaysin Saxton followed Starbucks CEO to the Senate to testify here against the company. Still from video by SWU.

AUGUSTA, Ga.—Remember Jaysin Saxton? The National Labor Relations Board’s Atlanta regional office is going to bat against Starbucks and for him, big time.

Saxton was one of two Starbucks workers who followed company founder and former CEO Howard Schultz to the Senate Labor Committee witness chair in early April hearings on the coffee chain’s rampant and nationwide labor law-breaking.

Schultz denied everything. Saxton, a Black disabled military veteran, proceeded to rip Schultz’s pious proclamations to shreds—by testifying Starbucks illegally fired him for organizing his Starbucks store in Augusta, Ga. It also cut off his medical care, forcing him to the Veterans Affairs Department’s system, which, however, doesn’t cover his family.

Now Saxton’s testimony and NLRB’s subsequent investigation show that, if anything, Saxton was understating the case. So Atlanta NLRB Regional Director Lisa Henderson has hauled out the board’s ultimate weapon: On April 27, she filed papers demanding the U.S. District Court in Atlanta issue a 10(j) injunction against Starbucks and for Saxton.

The NLRB uses 10(j)s only when the worker(s) affected would suffer immediate and irreparable harm if their cases wound their way through the board’s usual route of hearings, rulings, appeals, board rulings, and then travel into federal courts. 10(j)s when granted, provide immediate reinstatement, plus back pay and damages.

Not only that, but Henderson wants to make her proposed 10(j) against Starbucks a nationwide injunction against what it’s done to Saxton, just like the first Starbucks workers to unionize with Starbucks Workers United, in Buffalo, sought there. If her bid succeeds, this 10(j) would be the sixth, at least, against the giant coffee chain.

“After employees engaged in a lawful protest over Starbucks’ changes to their terms and conditions of employment, Starbucks illegally discharged the leader of the employee effort, who was also a key activist in the recent successful organizing campaign,” Henderson told the district judges in asking them to hear the case.

Saxton and his allies won their balloting at the Augusta Starbucks, but the bosses refused to bargain with them. After a standoff over that, a disgruntled Augusta worker filed a petition with the NLRB to decertify i.e. toss out the union, the Augusta Chronicle reported. Three days later, on April 11, the decert petition’s sponsor withdrew it. No reason was given.

“Starbucks under the leadership of Howard Schultz fired a dad and a veteran for daring to lead his fellow partners in a protected strike to improve working conditions. Yet, unlike Howard’s dad, I have legal protections,” Saxton told Starbucks Workers United, the Service Employees organizers who are aiding the Starbucks grass-roots workers in their coast-to-coast organizing.

“Thanks to those protections, the federal government is acting to protect, restore my livelihood, and defend the right to organize. I can’t wait to get back in my store and fight for my fellow partners,” Saxton concluded.

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Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.