Starbucks, union file dueling lawsuits over pro-Palestine social media post

Starbucks, union file dueling lawsuits over pro-Palestine social media post | The Enterprise World

Starbucks and the labor union representing the coffee company’s organized employees have initiated conflicting legal actions concerning a pro-Palestine social media post regarding the Israel-Hamas conflict, as per court documents obtained by USA TODAY on Thursday.

According to court records, the Seattle-based corporation filed a federal lawsuit against Starbucks Workers United in Iowa on Wednesday, citing a pro-Palestine social media post shared by a union account during the initial stages of the Hamas-Israel war. Starbucks claims in the lawsuit that this post inflicted harm on the company’s reputation and resulted in adverse customer attention, with over 1,000 complaints received. Additionally, Starbucks alleges that workers and stores across the country have been subjected to threatening phone calls, hostile customers, and acts of vandalism.

Illegal anti-union campaign

In response, the union filed its own lawsuit in federal court in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, contending that Starbucks, known for its tumultuous relationship with organizers, is exploiting the incident to perpetuate an “illegal anti-union campaign” by falsely tarnishing the union’s reputation with its workers and the public. Therefore, Starbucks and the union are embroiled in legal disputes arising from a pro-Palestine social media post related to the Israel-Hamas war.

Starbucks’ federal lawsuit in Iowa claims trademark infringement and requests that Workers United cease using the name “Starbucks Workers United” for their worker organizing group. Additionally, Starbucks demands that the group stop employing a circular green logo resembling Starbucks’ own logo.

Workers United, in response, filed a counterclaim, seeking a federal court’s ruling that allows them to continue using the Starbucks name and a similar logo. They also assert that Starbucks defamed the union by insinuating support for terrorism and violence.

On October 9, just two days after Hamas militants conducted actions in southern Israel, Starbucks Workers United posted “Solidarity with Palestine!” on Twitter. Workers United admitted that the tweet was published without the consent of union leadership and was removed after about 40 minutes. However, pro-Palestine social media post and retweets from local Starbucks Workers United branches endorsing Palestinians and criticizing Israel remained visible on Twitter on Wednesday. Starbucks filed its lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, pointing out that Iowa City Starbucks Workers United was among those sharing pro-Palestinian messages.

Palestinian social media users ‘shadow banned’ over content

Highlighting that Starbucks Workers United’s Twitter page 

Starbucks, in a letter sent to Workers United on October 13, demanded that the union discontinue the use of its name and a similar logo. Workers United replied by highlighting that Starbucks Workers United’s Twitter page clearly identifies itself as a union.

Workers United’s lawsuit emphasizes that unions frequently use the company name of the workers they represent, citing examples such as the Amazon Labor Union and the National Football League Players Association.

Starbucks contends that it received over 1,000 complaints regarding the union’s post, asserting that their employees had to contend with hostile customers and menacing phone calls. Vandals even defaced a Rhode Island store’s windows with Stars of David and a swastika.

Also Read: Starbucks to charge $1 extra for ‘no water’ Refreshers

Did You like the post? Share it now: