CJ Miller, 19, said he was fired for helping organize Missouri’s first union representing Starbucks employees.
Starbucks has faced similar accusations across the country. But Starbucks said Miller’s firing had nothing to do with union activity.
After baristas in Buffalo successfully unionized in a tough 2021 campaign where seven workers were fired, CJ Miller became a vocal leader and face of union efforts in metro Kansas City.
“Anyone who has been paying attention to the union drive here in Kansas City will know who I am,” Miller said.
A week after an appearance on FOX4 last month where Independence workers went on strike early in the morning, Miller was told he was being investigated. He cited his research for posting union meeting information flyers in public areas where employees take breaks.
“I had to wait three weeks walking into every shift believing I was going to get fired today,” Miller said.
But when he got his termination notice, he was cited for not properly recording the break, saying it was his third offense. Miller said the time card represents half an hour lost in what would have been a much larger shift than eight hours otherwise.
“We looked at everything and said this is more likely to come back to me to be the leader of the union,” Miller said.
So he filed what’s known as an Unfair Labor Practices claim with the National Labor Relations Board.
“When an individual worker or a union filed a charge that the NLRB investigated the allegations, they interviewed witnesses, they examined the documents and they came to a conclusion whether they think there is an unlawful threat or unlawful discipline,” said labor lawyer Josiah Groff.
That’s what happened in the case of the Memphis 7, seven other Starbucks employees who were also terminated during the union effort, but the judge ruled that they should be rehired.
The store where they worked in Memphis, just happened to be a Starbucks erroneously said Miller worked in his pink slip, instead of the correct store in Independence.
“I don’t know if it was disorganized, if they just copied and pasted the written form or if they had one form sent to the union leader, but it seems pretty clear to me what they did,” Miller said.
Starbucks said in a statement:
“No Starbucks partner has been or will be disciplined or separated for supporting, organizing or engaging in lawful union activity. All partners have the right to be heard when union issues arise.
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