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Starbucks faces union retaliation for store closure



After workers at a Starbucks store in Ithaca, New York, went on strike last April, a communications specialist from public relations firm Edelman sent out a “real-time alert” by email to Starbucks corporate officials.

“Note about article from The Ithacan discussing the Cornell University Starbucks strike,” wrote the specialist. “Partners have gone on strike over repeated spills of grease traps, resulting in an unsafe environment and inaction on the part of management.”

The story rekindled a discussion among Starbucks management about what to do with the store. The regional director recommended closing because “the space doesn’t meet the needs of our partners or the brand,” but she also noted that they are looking into refurbishment.

Two months later, Starbucks closed the store permanently, prompting workers and federal enforcers to accuse the company of retaliation. Workers recently voted 19-1 in favor of joining Workers United, making it one of 300 Starbucks corporate stores across the country that have been established since late 2021.

The emails that Starbucks disclosed in a recent National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) lawsuit shed light on Starbucks management’s thoughts leading up to the closure. The store was in a great location with great sales potential, but had serious service problems, the main one being an overflowing grease trap.

In June, Denise Nelsen, senior vice president of US operations, emailed Rossanne Williams, then head of Starbucks’ business in North America, about a debate about whether the store should close permanently or refurbish it.

“We need to resolve these conditions issues because we also continue to receive information about the state of the store,” Nelsen wrote.

Kolya Witek, a barista who worked at the College Avenue establishment, argued that the strike’s unwanted attention prompted Starbucks to close the store for good.

“It was retaliation for the strike we went on because we were forced to work in unsafe conditions,” said Vitek, who now works at another Starbucks store in Ithaca. “They didn’t care [before]. Now that we’re making national news, they suddenly feel uneasy.”

“We need to address these conditions issues because we also continue to receive information about the state of the store.”

— Starbucks spokesperson Denise Nelsen in an email to colleagues.

Starbucks insists it closed the cafe for legitimate business reasons, saying its concerns about the store date back to the previous year. The company also denied that the negative press played any role in the call.

“The media attention did not affect our decision to close the store,” company spokesman Andrew Trull told HuffPost.

It would be illegal for a company to close an individual workplace because of union activity. The General Counsel of the NLRB considered the union’s claims in Ithaca to be justified and filed a lawsuit. sweeping complaint against the company in November last year.

On June 3, 2022, Starbucks told workers that the College Avenue store would be closed permanently, according to the union. But Starbucks emails suggest the company still hadn’t decided what to do with the cafe at the time, in part because the location was so secure.

A memo on the store’s situation stated that it had “the strongest real estate position in the area” and “any move would be worse.” Operations team members recommended a permanent closure, while the “real estate recommendation” for the store was to “close, reinvest and reopen”.

The former Starbucks CEO ran tests on Capitol Hill last month. The union accused the company of closing more than two stores in retaliation.

Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

Days after workers were told the store was closing for good, company officials were still debating whether they should rehabilitate it and reopen it.

“It’s getting dark, this is our last desperate attempt to get [landlord] to solve these problems,” Nelsen wrote to Williams.

Noting the media attention to the store, Nelsen added, “If we can’t get him to respond to this message and cooperate, we will need to discuss a permanent closure.”

Michael Dolce, a lawyer for the union, said the emails show Starbucks hasn’t been honest with store employees. He noted that on the same day that Nelsen and Williams were discussing the store’s possibilities, a Starbucks lawyer sent workers a list of reasons they were closing it for good, including a problematic fat trap.

“At the negotiating table, they told the union they were closing the store for good,” Dolce said. “The plan was No permanently close the store; it was for exploring options.”

Dolce claimed that the negative publicity generated by the strike prompted Starbucks to hurry up and close the store, even as he was still assessing what to do.

Another Starbucks email says the original plan to close was to keep the cafe open until June, but the operating team pushed back the closing date by almost three weeks.

Starbucks says it still considered the closure “permanent” because it could not restore the cafe in a matter of weeks. Instead, it would take one to two years and cost $700,000.

Asked why the company told workers that the store would be closed permanently when repairs were pending, Nelsen said during a labor council lawsuit that the store’s “depth of problems” makes the timing of reopening uncertain.

“Our timeline for something new — like opening a brand new store — is a year,” she said. “So we are literally talking about something that takes so long. Like, yes, it will be treated as a permanent closure.”

Williams played a leading role in the company’s efforts to contain unionism. before leaving Starbucks last June. While in Seattle, the executive visited and worked in stores in the Buffalo area, where the campaign began when workers were considering unionizing – the presence of some workers was deemed close. The emails suggest that Williams received details of the union’s progress.

“It was retaliation for the strike we went on because we were forced to work in unsafe conditions.”

– Starbucks employee Kolya Vitek

In a June 2022 email, the regional COO sent an email to Williams with a “Buffalo CV” calling Ithaca a “hot spot” for union activity that “continues to have Buffalo union organizers”.

She also told Williams about the upcoming union elections. She said the company planned to challenge the store’s recent vote because four employees apparently did not receive ballots. The Union won this vote 7-4.

“These four partners are believed to have no votes,” she wrote. (The challenge ultimately failed.)

The College Avenue store is one of 25 stores the union says Starbucks has closed either permanently or temporarily to disrupt the union’s campaign. Union members argue that the Starbucks closure serves two purposes: to disrupt and disperse the core of union support—perhaps provoking the layoffs of baristas who couldn’t or didn’t want to work elsewhere—and to make workers think twice before trying to organize.

Starbucks says it hasn’t closed any stores in retaliation for union activity. But an ALJ has already ruled that Starbucks is illegal. closed the shop who organized into unions, considering the reasons for closing the company “clearly a pretext.” The NLRB General Counsel has not yet announced whether the union’s allegations of nearly two dozen other closures have merit.

After Starbucks announced it was closing the Ithaca store, workers began what it called “bargaining” with the company to discuss their rights during the closure. The workers were offered jobs in other stores. Witek said they pushed for a severance pay for workers who would not take other positions, but the company was strongly against it.

Evan Sunshine, the Ithaca barista who led the bidding, said he didn’t expect Starbucks to close the store for good. He believed that the grease trap was a serious problem and that the company could close the store for a while to fix it, but eventually the workers would be able to return to the same store.

Sunshine said they were raising money to help cover the wages of workers affected by the shutdown.

“We didn’t hit our targets every week,” he said.

Ultimately, according to Sunshine, the closure of the College Avenue store had a major impact on the workforce and organizing campaign in the city. When elections took place in April 2022, the store had 27 employees. Starbucks said that after the closure, fourteen employees agreed to work in other stores, while the rest refused. The vast majority have since left the company.

“Two of the 27 still work at Starbucks,” Sunshine said, referring to himself and Vitek.


Bill Osterle, co-founder of Angie’s List, dies at 57



Bill Osterle, founder and longtime executive director of service review website Angie’s List, who also ran Mitch Daniels’ first campaign for governor of Indiana but later clashed with the state’s Republican establishment, died Wednesday at his home in Indianapolis. Hey, that’s 57.

His assistant, Jackie Annan, said complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, were the cause.

The idea for Angie’s List, which Mr. Osterle (pronounced OST-er-lee) founded in Columbus, Ohio in 1995 with Angie Hicks, was to connect people who paid subscription fees to reliable contractors and other home improvement professionals, removing some of the anxieties of hiring a stranger for an expensive home renovation.

The business, originally called Columbus Neighbors, was hyperlocal, with Ms Hicks acquiring new subscribers from house to house and making recommendations over the phone, consulting an actual list that had to be updated whenever the company’s rating changed. The service spread the word even further through newspaper advertisements, and in 1996 it became known as Angie’s List.

In 1999, with the dot-com boom nearing its peak, Angie’s List moved online. The site, which still charged subscription fees and also made money from ads, rated various businesses from A to F in categories such as punctuality and professionalism. It also allowed users to write signed reviews about various businesses in their area, which Angie’s List hoped would make reviews fairer and more accurate. (Full usernames did not appear, but they had to provide them to the company.)

Companies that receive bad reviews may try to resolve the issue with customers who have complained through Angie’s List; if a company has ignored the complaint resolution process or failed to resolve a complaint, it may be placed in a penalty box, a sort of online pillory, and temporarily delisted from the site. Well-known businesses received the Super Service Award and increased visibility on the site.

Mr. Osterle became CEO in 1999 when Ms. Hicks left to study at Harvard Business School. (She later returned in a different capacity.) Over time, the company employed more than 2,000 employees, mostly based in Indianapolis during Mr. Osterle’s tenure, and built up a user base of millions in dozens of cities across the United States.

In 2004, Mr. Osterle left to lead Mr. Daniels’s campaign for governor. He had known Mr. Daniels, then Director of the Office of Management and Budget, for many years. Mr. Osterle raised millions of dollars for Mr. Daniels’ campaign by having him tour the state in a van, ride a motorcycle and stay overnight with voters to demonstrate that he was a man of the people.

Mr. Daniels won easily, defeating incumbent Democrat Joseph Kernan with over 53 percent of the vote.

Mr. Osterle turned against Indiana’s Republican establishment in 2015, when Mr. Daniels’ successor as governor, Mike Pence, signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, legislation that critics say would allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

The law sparked outcry from politicians in other states, as well as business leaders like Apple’s Tim Cook and many Hoosiers, with thousands protesting outside the state building.

Mr. Osterle threatened to cancel a $40 million deal to expand Angie’s List’s Indianapolis headquarters, leave his position as chief executive to focus on gay rights in Indiana, and support Mr. Pence’s rival, to whom he donated $150,000.

Hey said Indianapolis Star in 2015 that he believed the bill would harm the state’s economy and the Republican Party.

In the aftermath of the scandal, Indiana lawmakers quickly passed an amendment aimed at protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. But Angie’s List never expanded to Indianapolis.

Angie’s List came outc in 2011, but ran into financial difficulties after a promising initial public offering. Mr Osterle stepped down as CEO in 2015, and in 2017 Angie’s List was acquired for approximately $500 million by IAC, a digital media group controlled by entrepreneur Barry Diller that merged the company with its HomeAdvisor service. Angie’s list is now known as Angie.

William Sealy Osterle was born September 26, 1965 in Lafayette, Indiana, northwest of Indianapolis. He was the youngest of five children of Eric Osterle, a professor of agricultural economics at Purdue University, and Germaine (Seely) Osterle, who studied horticulture at Cornell University before marrying.

Mr Osterle grew up in West Lafayette where he graduated from high school in 1983. In 1987, he received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Purdue University and received a New York Governor’s Scholarship. Robert Orr.

About a year later, Mr. Osterle was hired by the Hudson Institute, a think tank then run by Mr. Daniels and headquartered in Indianapolis. He was later accepted into Harvard Business School. But before he left, Mr. Daniels spoke to him.

“He pointed his finger at my chest and said, ‘You better get back here. You owe it to us,” Mr Esterle said in 2021.

In the early 1990s, he received a master’s degree from Harvard, and in 1991 he married Melissa McCain. Their marriage ended in divorce.

Mr. Osterle went to work for a private equity firm in Columbus, Ohio, where he met Ms. Hicks, a recent graduate of DePaugh University.

Inspired by an Indianapolis newsletter that helped people find plumbers and other household workers, Mr. Osterle and Ms. Hicks began working in his garage. Once the company began to gain momentum, they named it after Mrs. Hicks, bought the service that originally inspired them, and eventually moved their headquarters to Indianapolis.

In 2002, Mr. Osterle helped create Partnership Orrnamed for Governor Orr, who brings up to 90 new college graduates to Indianapolis to work for major companies for two years.

In 2007, Mr. Osterle married Christy English. She outlived him, as did four children from his first marriage, Maggie Shipman, Cathy Smith, Fischer Osterle, and Emma Osterle; stepdaughter Kayla English; daughter from his second marriage, Louella Osterle; two brothers, Eric and Dale; two sisters, Elizabeth and Mary Ellen Osterle; and three grandchildren.

Orr’s partnership was the first of many attempts by Mr. Osterle to keep talented, educated workers from leaving Indiana.

Mr. Osterle started a business to solve this problem: MakeMyMovewhich works with communities in Indiana and other states to encourage remote workers to move to those communities.

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Newly elected AAP MP Sushil Kumar Rinku meets Delhi Prime Minister Arvind Kejriwal



The day after the results of the Jalandhar poll, Aam Aadmi party leader Sushil Kumar Rinku, who won the Jalandhar Lok Sabha constituency, met with AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi on Sunday.

The meeting was also attended by Punjab chief Bhagwant Mann and MP Sanjay Singh.

According to the Electoral Commission of India, Sushil Kumar Rinku, a former Congress MLA member, defeated his nearest rival, Congress MP Karamjit Kaur, by a margin of over 58,000 votes. Rincu received 3,02,279 votes.

BJP candidate Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal came in third, while candidate Shiromani Akali Dal Sukhwinder Kumar Suhi, who is also backed by the Mayawati-led BSP, came in fourth.

The bypass poll, which was voted on May 10, was prompted by the death of husband Karamjit Kaur and Congressman Santoh Singh Chaudhary on January 14 this year after suffering a cardiac arrest while attending the party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been remastered by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is automatically generated from the syndicated feed.)

First published: May 14, 2023 | 23:33 IS

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China orders Tesla to recall 1.1 million vehicles due to braking problems



China has ordered Tesla, the world’s dominant electric vehicle maker, to recall 1.1 million vehicles, citing a problem with the acceleration and braking systems of some models made in China and abroad.

China’s market regulator announced the decision after investigating the reported defect, according to a statement released on Friday. The recalled vehicles include some imported Model S, Model X, Model 3, and Chinese-made Model 3 and Model Y vehicles that were produced between January 12, 2019 and April 24, 2023.

The problem is related to the vehicle’s regenerative braking system, which generates electricity from vehicle movement when the driver releases the accelerator pedal. The State Administration for Market Regulation said in a statement that cars may not warn when the driver presses the gas pedal hard for an extended period of time.

The defect may lead To increased risk of collisions, the statement said.

Tesla said it would fix the cars with a software update sent to the cars over the air, the regulator said in a statement.

This is the second Tesla recall in China in recent months. In March, Tesla recalled 2,649 vehicles manufactured between October 2015 and August 2020 after a Chinese regulator said the hoods of some imported Model S vehicles could open while the vehicle was running, increasing the risk of collisions.

China is an important market for Tesla. country’s revenue increased to $18.2 billion last year from $13.8 billion in 2021. The recall will begin on May 29 and Tesla will notify the affected vehicle owners via mail or text message. China’s regulator did not say how many of the recalled Teslas were imported.

Tesla has also run into trouble with US regulators. In February, Tesla recalled more than 362,000 vehicles equipped with Full Self Driving driver assistance after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found it increased the risk of accidents.

The driver assistance system, which can independently steer, accelerate, brake and change lanes, has allowed vehicles to overspeed and cross intersections in an “illegal or unpredictable manner,” the agency said in documents posted on its website. It says that Tesla was unaware of any deaths or injuries caused by deficiencies identified by the agency.

In January, Tesla said in a regulatory filing that the Justice Department had asked it for documents related to the company’s self-driving software, which could be a hurdle for chief executive Elon Musk. While regulators are investigating the technology’s safety, some Tesla owners have filed lawsuits on the grounds that Tesla’s self-driving software doesn’t live up to Musk’s promises.

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