Supreme Court sides with Starbucks to weaken worker protections against union busting

Washington DC - The Supreme Court has sided with Starbucks in reducing the National Labor Relations Board's power to intervene on behalf of workers in cases of corporate union busting.

The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Starbucks in a case that will significantly weaken a federal agency's ability to protect workers' rights.
The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Starbucks in a case that will significantly weaken a federal agency's ability to protect workers' rights.  © Anna Moneymaker / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

SCOTUS dealt a significant blow to workers' rights in the 8-1 ruling on Thursday. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson partially dissented.

The Starbucks Corp v. McKinney case revolved around the high-profile firing and reinstatement of the Memphis Seven, a group of baristas who were allegedly terminated in 2022 for trying to organize their co-workers. Their store successfully voted to unionize in July of that year despite the apparent corporate retaliation.

The National Labor Relations Board used a two-part test to issue a 10(j) injunction, which forced the company to rehire the fired Memphis workers. Now, SCOTUS has ruled that a stricter four-part test is required in such cases.

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"I am loath to bless this aggrandizement of judicial power where Congress has so plainly limited the discretion of the courts, and where it so clearly intends for the expert agency it has created to make the primary determinations about both merits and process," Jackson wrote in her opinion.

This is only the latest in a long line of Supreme Court rulings that curb the power of federal agencies.

Starbucks Workers United responds to SCOTUS decision

From l. to r.: Beto Sanchez, Nikki Taylor, and Nabretta Hardin – three members of the Memphis Seven – march to their Starbucks store during a labor rights protest.
From l. to r.: Beto Sanchez, Nikki Taylor, and Nabretta Hardin – three members of the Memphis Seven – march to their Starbucks store during a labor rights protest.  © IMAGO / USA TODAY Network

Despite the decision, Starbucks workers remain defiant and determined to continue their unionizing efforts.

"Working people have so few tools to protect and defend themselves when their employers break the law. That makes today's ruling by the Supreme Court particularly egregious. It underscores how the economy is rigged against working people all the way up to the Supreme Court," Workers United President Lynne Fox said in a statement after the ruling.

"Regardless of large corporations' machinations at the Supreme Court, workers are continuing to organize. Just last week, workers at 20 Starbucks stores filed petitions to join Starbucks Workers United. And there are nearly 450 union Starbucks stores across the country," Fox continued.

"Workers' momentum is unstoppable and they will not let the Supreme Court slow them down."

Cover photo: IMAGO / USA TODAY Network

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