Starbucks Employees Seeking Unionization Claim Intimidation, Cut Hours
Workspan Daily
March 25, 2022

Starbucks employees at the coffeehouse chain’s Scottsdale, Arizona. location say their attempts to unionize “have been met with opposition from management, including intimidation and cutting hours for involved employees,” Tempe, Arizona-based KJZZ reports.

The Scottsdale location joins more than 100 other Starbucks stores across the country to have filed petitions for union elections, according to KJZZ, which notes that the Mesa, Ariz.-based Starbucks store was successful in its efforts. 

“In order to keep my college benefits through Starbucks, for [Arizona State University], I have to maintain at least 20 hours a week, that’s recently been cut to 16 or lower, and I had to really fight to get back to that 20 [hour] baseline,” Callie Daly, a barista and the Scottsdale store, told KJZZ, adding that she was consistently working 28 hours a week before she joined the union effort. 

Another Starbucks employee, Laila Dalton, was named in a formal complaint against Starbucks from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Dalton claims she has received more discipline from management since starting the unionization process.

“They have put us through so many obstacles, trying to give me so many write-ups, trying to cut so many people’s hours from working 20 hours to just 10 to five hours a week,” Dalton told KJZZ. 

A Starbucks spokesperson has described employees’ claims of anti-union activity as being “categorically false,” and said that all Starbucks employees are held to the same standards, regardless of union affiliation.

DOL Urges Caution for 401(k) Fiduciaries Considering Cryptocurrencies

As part of what the organization describes as an effort to protect U.S. workers’ retirement savings, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has published compliance assistance for 401(k) plan fiduciaries considering plan investments in cryptocurrencies. 

Published by the department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration, Compliance Assistance Release No. 2022-01 cautions plan fiduciaries to “exercise extreme care before they consider adding a cryptocurrency option to a 401(k) plan’s investment menu for plan participants.” 

In a statement summarizing the compliance release, the DOL notes that private pension plans held an estimated $6.2 trillion on behalf of about 91 million defined contribution 401(k) plan participants, as of 2019. 

The announcement of the compliance release “reminds plan fiduciaries of their important role in selecting investment options for 401(k) plan menus,” said Ali Khawar, employee benefits security administration acting assistant secretary, in a statement. 

“At this stage of cryptocurrency’s development, fiduciaries must exercise extreme care before including direct investment options in cryptocurrency.” 

Federal Judge: MLB Violates Minimum Wage Law

A federal judge in San Francisco has found Major League Baseball (MLB) in violation of Arizona state minimum wage law and is liable for triple damages, ruling that minor league baseball players are year-round employees who work during training time, reports U.S. News

Chief Magistrate Judge Joseph C. Spero also ruled that MLB did not comply with California wage statement requirements, awarding $1,882,650 in penalties, and that minor league players should be paid for travel time to road games in the California League and to practice in Arizona and Florida. Spero rejected many of MLB’s motions for summary judgments, clearing the way for these claims to proceed to a trial scheduled to begin June 1. 

“These are not students who have enrolled in a vocational school with the understanding that they would perform services, without compensation, as part of the practical training necessary to complete the training and obtain a license,” wrote Spero. 

In a statement, the steering committee of Advocates for Minor Leaguers called the ruling “an enormous step toward holding MLB accountable for its longstanding mistreatment of minor league players.” 

Working as a professional baseball player “requires far more than just playing baseball games,” the organization said. “It also requires hours of year-round training, practice and preparation, for which we have never been properly compensated.” 

MLB had no comment on Spero’s decision, according to U.S. News.

Survey: Younger Employees Want Benefits, Flexibility Going Forward

A new survey finds that Gen Z and millennial employees value benefits and flexibility in their jobs as much or more so than at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. 

Georgetown University’s Business for Impact’s AgingWell Hub and Edge Research partnered with Bank of America to poll 1,174 individuals between the ages of 22 and 40, across all genders, age bands, geographies, and education and income levels. 

Overall, 63% of respondents said that employee benefits — retirement plans, health care, time off, for instance — are “more important than ever,” according to a statement announcing the findings.  

In addition, 56% indicated that they will prioritize flexibility — time, working hours, comfort and so on — in their next job. And, while more than half of respondents (51%) said they want their employer to support working from home even after pandemic restrictions subside, that figure represents an 8% decrease from the number of participants saying the same in last year’s version of the same Georgetown poll. 

“More than ever, young adults are prioritizing strong benefits and job flexibility when considering an employer. A more diverse labor market and competition for talent makes it vital for employers to offer strong workplace benefits that cater to the needs of their Gen Z and millennial employees,” said Kevin Crain, head of retirement research and insights at Bank of America, in a statement. 

“Millennials face particular challenges in managing their personal finances, including paying down debt, creating a budget and saving for retirement, with nearly half saying that they are living from paycheck to paycheck.”

Indeed, 48% of millennials polled said they are currently living paycheck to paycheck, a 6% increase from last year. And less than one-third of respondents (28%) believe they could handle an unexpected major expense, compared to 32% saying as much in 2020. 

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