Bloomberg Law Quotes Sabrina Beldner on NLRB Allegations Against Starbucks

September 15, 2022

McGuireWoods partner Sabrina A. Beldner was interviewed by Bloomberg Law for a Sept. 7 story focused on allegations that Starbucks Corp. discriminated against unionized employees by denying them wage and benefit increases given to nonunion workers.

The National Labor Relations Board filed its complaint against Starbucks last month. In response, Starbucks maintained that it is required under federal law to negotiate wage and benefit changes with the union and can’t make such changes unilaterally, as it can in nonunion stores. 

Bloomberg Law interviewed labor and management-side lawyers for analysis of the dispute, which underscores the challenges employers face when they have a mix of union and nonunion workforces. Beldner, who chairs McGuireWoods’ Labor & Employment Department, told Bloomberg Law that the NLRB’s allegations against Starbucks appear to be a reach.

“What this complaint shows is that there is a view at the NLRB that giving benefits to nonunionized workers when they work alongside union-represented workers is a violation of the law,” said Beldner, who is based in the firm’s Century City, California office. “I’d tell my clients that there’s a risk out there, but they have to make the decision on benefits that’s best to attract and retain talent.”