INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — A former Independence, Missouri Starbucks barista and shift supervisor filed an unfair labor practice complaint Thursday with the National Labor Relations Board.
CJ Miller, 19, said he was fired for helping organize Missouri’s first union representing Starbucks employees.
Starbucks has faced similar allegations across the country. But Starbucks says Miller’s firing had nothing to do with union activity.
After baristas in Buffalo successfully unionized in a hard fought 2021 campaign where seven employees were fired, CJ Miller became the vocal leader and face of union efforts in the Kansas City metro.
“Anybody who has been paying attention to the union drive here in Kansas City would know who I am,” Miller said.
A week after an appearance on FOX4 last month where Independence workers went on strike for the morning, Miller was notified he was under investigation. He says the investigation was for posting union meeting information flyers in the public area where employees take breaks.
“I had to wait for three weeks walking into every shift believing that I might be fired today,” Miller said.
But when he got his termination notice it cited him for not properly recording a break, saying it was his third offense. Miller says the time card reflects the missing half hour on what would have been a shift greater than eight hours otherwise.
“We looked at all that and said this is more than likely to get back at me for being a union leader,” Miller said.
So he’s filed what’s known as an Unfair Labor Practice claim with the National Labor Relations Board.
“When an individual employee or union files a charge the NLRB investigates the charge they interview witnesses, they investigate documents and they come to a conclusion whether they think there were unlawful threats or unlawful discipline,” labor attorney Josiah Groff explained.
That’s what happened in the case of the Memphis 7, seven other Starbucks employees who were also terminated during union efforts, but a judge ruled they must be rehired.
The store where they worked in Memphis, just happens to be the one Starbucks erroneously said Miller worked at on his pink slip, instead of the correct store in Independence.
“I don’t know if its disorganization, if they are just copy and pasting write-up forms or if they have one form they are sending to union leaders, but it seems pretty clear to me what they are doing,” Miller said.
Starbucks said in a statement:
“No Starbucks partner has been or will be disciplined or separated for supporting, organizing or otherwise engaging in lawful union activity. All partners have the right to make their voice heard when it comes to union issues.”
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