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Colorado judge mandates Starbucks to rehire, compensate, apologize to fired union leader

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Following a ruling by a federal administrative judge that a Colorado Starbucks employee was unlawfully terminated for unionizing, the judge has directed the coffee corporation not only to reinstate her but also to provide back pay and issue an apology.

Barista Alendra ‘Len’ Harris, who initiated unionization efforts at a Superior location, expresses validation and highlights the broader impact on Starbucks workers nationwide striving for improved pay and working conditions through unionization. Despite nearly 400 unionized Starbucks stores, none have secured contracts as of Tuesday.

In the case of the Superior Starbucks, the administrative judge found that Harris faced unjust termination in November 2022 after successfully unionizing the store earlier that year. The ruling rebuffs Starbucks’ assertion of lawful termination and signals a legal precedent. Harris, who experienced alleged retaliation from a temporary manager, hopes her victory serves as a catalyst for other employees to advocate for workplace rights.

Starbucks, ordered by the judge to reinstate Harris with the same position and payscale, issue back pay, and cease anti-union activities, faces the possibility of an appeal. The company, which previously defended Harris’s termination, is yet to respond to the latest request for comment. This case adds to a growing trend of workers achieving gains through unionization in 2023, with examples such as part-time UPS drivers securing a 55% raise and airline pilots receiving a 40% raise.

Regardless of the case’s future developments, Harris emphasizes the significance of persevering in the pursuit of workers’ rights, encouraging others to unite for a collective and worthwhile cause.

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