Steven M. Swirsky, Member of the Firm in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s New York office, was quoted in The New York Times, in “Unionizing Starbucks, Inspired by Bernie Sanders,” by Noam Scheiber. (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

As a union organizing campaign that began in Buffalo and produced the company’s only two unionized U.S. stores spreads to other cities, it is being driven by workers like Ms. Carter: young, well educated, politically liberal. …

Perhaps more disconcertingly for Starbucks as it tries to contain the union campaign, Ms. Carter appears to be representative of the kinds of people the company has hired over the years to reinforce its progressive branding.

Labor experts say that in seeking such employees Starbucks may have built a work force that is more inclined to unionize and to be energized by the Buffalo campaign. …

Starbucks has no shortage of cards to play in resisting unionization. While companies must bargain in good faith with N.L.R.B.-certified unions, they are not required to agree to a contract, and negotiations could drag on for years. The company can also afford to spend large sums to discourage union organizing.

But the image-conscious company could eventually decide that risking an anti-union reputation is costlier than a more accommodating posture. “You don’t want to antagonize your customer base,” said Steven M. Swirsky, a management-side lawyer at Epstein Becker & Green. “They have created a brand with certain mystiques around it. You have to be sensitive to how to maintain that, not undermine it.”


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