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Reports: Combined Starbucks/Amazon Go Store Seeks Unionization; Amazon CEO Faces NLRB Complaint

The unionization pushes at Starbucks and Amazon are poised to converge: the combined Starbucks and Amazon Go store in Manhattan reportedly filed a petition for a union election with Starbucks Workers United, according to CNBC. Additionally, the National Labor Relations Board has filed a complaint against Amazon CEO Andy Jassy regarding the potential violation of labor law in remarks discussing the company’s stance on unionization in interviews with CNBC and Bloomberg.

Starbucks opened the first Just Walk Out-powered store in 2021, and the location seeking to organize opened in 2022. The concept features the full Starbucks menu, with an emphasis on placing orders for easy pickup, as well as a curated assortment of food and beverages in an integrated Amazon Go market, including fresh-prepared salads, sandwiches, bakery items and snacks.

The NLRB cited an April CNBC interview when Jassy said associates’ jobs would become “much slower” and “more bureaucratic” if they voted to join a union, and a Bloomberg Tech Summit interview that workers would be “better off without a union.”

These comments can be considered “interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed,” according to the complaint filed by the NLRB. Amazon has until Nov. 8, 2022 to respond to the complaint, and the office has scheduled a hearing for Feb. 7, 2023.

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“These allegations are completely without merit, and the comments in question are clearly protected by express language of the National Labor Relations Act and decades of NLRB precedent,” said Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel in a statement seen by CNBC. “The comments lawfully explain Amazon’s views on unionization and the way it could affect the ability of our employees to deal directly with their managers, and they began with a clear recognition of our employees’ right to organize and in no way contained threats of reprisal.”

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