National labor board files complaints against 2 Kansas City area Starbucks for union busting

The complaint claims the Starbucks stores at 75th Street and I-35 in Overland Park and on the Country Club Plaza illegally terminated pro-union employees.

by Bek Shackelford-Nwanganga, Kansas News Service and KCUR

The National Board of Labor Relations (NBLR) filed a complaint Wednesday against two area Starbucks for preventing employees from exercising their legal right to organize.

The complaint, filed by District 14 of the NBLR, alleges the Starbucks at 75th Street & I-35 in Overland Park and the store on the Country Club Plaza wrongfully terminated Alydia Claypool, Maddie Doran and Michael Vestigo, and “constructively discharged” Hannah McCown for supporting union efforts.

Both stores have been at the forefront of union efforts for Starbucks in Kansas City since late January, joining a national wave of unionizing Starbucks stores. The 75th Street location is the only Starbucks to successfully unionize in the region so far.

Vestigo, who worked at the Overland Park store for more than a year and worked at a Starbucks kiosk for two years before that, said he was in shock after being fired April 1. He said he had no warning and was called to the back of the store and given a letter stating he was fired for allegedly being “violent and threatening” to a manager.

“They didn’t get my side of the story or anything like that. They just said, ‘We’re not having a conversation about this. You can collect your things and go,’” Vestigo said. “I remember just kind of feeling stunned just cause it was so out of the blue.”

Vestigo, along with the other three terminated employees, were actively pushing to unionize. During a strike at the Overland Park store in late March, Vestigo wore a wolf costume and held a sign saying, “Union Yes,” while Starbucks employees and union supporters rallied outside demanding better treatment and effectively closing the store.

He was fired just a week before his store voted to form a union.

Vestigo says he was using the company’s educational benefits and having those taken away “sucked.” He says he felt targeted by Starbucks managers because of his outspoken support of union efforts but also because he struggles to defend himself one-on-one, something he says he told managers in a meeting before he was fired.

“I don’t have a lot of confidence and have trouble standing up for myself,” Vestigo said. “I am not the person to speak on the other fired partners behalf, but they share the sentiment that they [Starbucks] targeted the most vulnerable people. They kind of turned around and threw something at me and I believe it’s because they thought that I would just kind of take it lying down and I wouldn’t really put up much of a fight.”

The NLRB complaint also alleges managers at various locations in the Kansas City region, including the 75th Street store, threatened enhanced enforcement of company policies, held anti-union discussions and threatened to take away previously promised raises. At the store on the Plaza, stricter dress codes were imposed and employees were told if they unionized they would lose future wage increases and benefits.

The complaint demands that Starbucks reimburse the former workers and submit written apologies. A virtual hearing is scheduled for July 5 at 10 a.m.

Claypool, who has since been reinstated as a Starbucks shift supervisor, said in a statement Wednesday she was elated that the NLRB filed a complaint.

“Getting the news today that these ULP charges are being taken seriously has made me cry tears of joy for the first time since the launch of this campaign,” she said. “With the termination of myself and the two other employees at [75th & I-35], it brings me great joy to see the NLRB proceeding with these ULPs. I am optimistic that we will all get the justice we believe we deserve. This is the hope we all needed today.”

The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.
Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to

See more at

Starbucks workers claim victory in Overland Park union vote, first in Kansas City area

Starbucks workers at 75th Street in Overland Park held a vote Friday afternoon to unionize, citing better working conditions and health care benefits

by Jacob Martin, KCUR and Kansas News Service

Starbucks workers in Overland Park appear to have successfully voted to form the company’s first union in the Kansas City area.

Workers at the café on West 75th Street gathered Friday afternoon as the tally was read live from a National Labor Relations Board office.

The vote came back 6-1 in favor of the union. Seven other ballots remain challenged, but union organizers say those ballots include three pro-union workers who allege wrongful firing. There is currently no timeline for when those ballots might be verified.

Hannah Edwards, a supervisor at the Overland Park location, said the contested votes should not affect the outcome.

“We’re not sure how long the lawyers will take to hash out those seven other ballots but we are confident that those are not all “no’s,” Edwards said.

Staff have been on strike since Wednesday alleging that management has intensified their union-busting efforts.

Efforts to unionize the Starbucks location have been ongoing since January. Last month, baristas organized a walkout effectively closing the cafe for a day, and following the termination of three employees at the location.

Emma Baldrige, a barista at the Overland Park store, said they are relieved by the outcome.

“We’ve been struggling for months with this and it makes all of the challenges that we face through this entire process worth it.”

The 75th Street location was among four Starbucks cafes that were counting union votes on Friday. In particular, the Overland Park workers are demanding better working conditions and health care benefits.

“This has been discussed multiple times with our management and upper management on the district level and no solutions have really came up,” shift supervisor Hannah McCown told KCUR.

Three other Kansas City-area Starbucks are also seeking to unionize. Workers at the cafes in Country Club Plaza, 39th street in Independence, and 41st and Main in Midtown have signed union authentication cards, seeking to align with the collective Workers United.

The union push came in the wake of a successful effort by Workers United to organize workers at a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York, late last year. Since then, over 200 Starbucks locations have filed to unionize, according to NPR, and 13 already voted in favor.

The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.
Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to

See more at

Rep. Davids calls for investment in domestic chip manufacturing

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-3rd Dist., spoke on Friday with UAW Local 31 President Clarence Brown, right, and Greater KC Chamber of Commerce Project Manager Adam Timmerman. (Photo from Rep. Davids’ office)

U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids, D-3rd Dist., today called for major economic legislation that would invest in domestic chip manufacturing.

Rep. Davids made her remarks at the United Autoworkers Local 31 hall in the Fairfax area of Kansas City, Kansas.

Rep. Davids met with business and labor leaders at the General Motors Fairfax Assembly and Stamping Plant in Fairfax. The plant was closed for several months last year because of the semiconductor “chip” shortage, and the second shift was laid off for most of last year.

Rep. Davids voted for the bipartisan America Competes Act earlier this month, which includes incentives for domestic chip production, resources to strengthen supply chains and reduce inflation, and policies that will promote American global leadership. Her amendment passed the House, ensuring that small and mid-sized manufacturers are given opportunities to participate in federal supply chain upgrades.

“Chips are essential components of the things Kansans use daily, from cars to computers to CPAP machines, and the shortage has been driving prices up across industries. I heard that firsthand from our local General Motors plant here in Fairfax,” Rep. Davids said. “We need to make more of these crucial materials here at home. These are the types of bipartisan policies that are going to make a real difference, from the factory floor to the kitchen table.”

“We appreciate Rep. Davids’ focus on critical supply chains including U.S. production of semiconductors to alleviate the ongoing shortage that continues to impact U.S. automotive manufacturing. The secure supply of semiconductors is absolutely critical for our work here at General Motors Fairfax Assembly plant and our over 2,000 employees,” said Steve Notar Donato, executive director of the General Motors Fairfax Assembly and Stamping Plant. “While there has been improvement, ensuring a steady supply is necessary to help support American jobs, maintain national security and provide consumers with the vehicles they need.”

“For seven months last year, the Fairfax GM floor was empty because of the chips shortage. In no way is that good for our workers, for our customers, or for our economy. I applaud Rep. Davids for her relentless support for workers now and into the future,” said Clarence “C.B.” Brown, president of UAW Local 31.

“These pieces of legislation are critical to advancing the technological capabilities of our nation while bringing new investments in research, innovation, and American manufacturing to the Greater Kansas City region,” said Adam Timmerman, Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. “As a chamber of commerce representing over 2,000 businesses across the bistate region, we will continue to advocate for legislation that turbocharges our research capacity to lead the technologies of the future, that solidifies and accelerates U.S. production of critical semiconductor chips, that strengthens the supply chain to make more goods in America, and that will advance our global competitiveness. Thank you, Representative Davids , for your support for this critical piece of legislation.”

According to a Joint Economic Committee report, the U.S. has lost over a quarter of its manufacturing jobs since 2000, and production of critical materials like chips—which are used in computers, cars, washing machines, and more—has increasingly moved overseas. This shortage has been contributing to inflation and supply chain difficulties across industries. In addition to Davids’ meeting with the General Motors plant this week, she recently visited local medical device suppliers who rely on chips and have been struggling to serve patients amid the ongoing shortage. The America COMPETES Act includes $52 billion to support domestic production of chips.

The America Competes Act has a bipartisan companion in the Senate and support from the National Association of Manufacturers and the AFL-CIO. A fact sheet on the America Competes Act is available at from the Joint Economic Committee, of which Davids is a member.

  • Story and photo from Rep. Davids’ office