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Today in Unionbusting



A coffee chain in the Washington DC area is accused of hiring dozens of friends of management, including other local food service executives and an Uber lobbyist, in an effort to defeat a union election scheduled for 16 July.

Workers at seven Compass Coffee locations, more than a third of the company’s stores, announced their intent to unionize in May 2024. The company has 18 cafes in Washington DC and northern Virginia and its coffee can be purchased in grocery stores throughout the area.

In a post on Twitter/X, Compass Coffee United accused the coffee chain of hiring 124 additional people at cafes that are attempting to unionize. The union has also accused the company of manipulating worker schedules retroactively to try to make the new employees eligible to vote in the union election. The Uber lobbyist, Liz Brown, and Uber did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“We received their first voter list. There were 43 people on the Georgetown cafe list, most of whom I have never met or seen in the cafe before,” said Penina Meier-Silverman, a shift supervisor at the Georgetown Compass Coffee store. “So the cafes are just flooded with new baristas. We also saw that they were forging schedules for days that have already passed. So they put people on the schedule for days that have passed that were never at work.”

Union organizing began more than a year ago due to ongoing issues at the company including the elimination of tips for workers, unfair disciplinary actions and broken equipment issues, said Meier-Silverman.

“Really all we’re asking for is just respect, safe working conditions, fair compensation, and benefits, fundamentally, which all equates to just human decency and respect in the workplace,” added Meier-Silverman. “It’s been a very clear response that they intend to do everything in their power to pack this election and kill it.”

The union has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board against Compass Coffee over their conduct. Meier-Silverman said they intended to file numerous charges over the mass new hires and alleged retaliation workers have experienced since the union campaign went public. She noted that she was written up for talking with a customer about the union.

Among the new baristas cited by the union are other local restaurant managers, including the Union Kitchen CEO and co-founder, Cullen Gilchrist. Gilchrist has presided over a tumultuous union organizing campaign over the past couple of years at Union Kitchen, a local specialty grocery chain in the Washington DC area.

You know, there are ways to unionbust without actually getting the attention of powerful senators and the media…

Senator Bernie Sanders criticized Compass Coffee over the hirings in a post on X on Saturday.

“Claiming that a lobbyist from Uber & CEOs from other companies are workers in order to rig a union election is totally absurd & disgusting,” Sanders wrote. “I strongly support Compass Workers and call on Compass Coffee DC to respect the rights of their workers to organize & end its union busting.”

This is what happens when you are an employer and you really just don’t give a shit what anyone thinks about your unionbusting, including the NLRB, which will obviously act on this.

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