However, once the union wins a few elections, “you pull out all the stops,” Pryzbylski said.
In some cases, the apparent escalation of corporate resistance has been matched by a slowdown in union campaigns. Starbucks registered for union elections in August to less than 10 from about 70 five months ago, and no Apple store has registered for a union election since November.
Starbucks unfairly fired seven workers in the Buffalo area last year, not long after the union won two elections there, according to a federal administrative judge’s ruling.
A Louisville, Kentucky branch of Trader Joe’s, which was the company’s third party to organize a union, fired two workers who supported the union campaign and has officially fined several others, according to Connor Hovey, a worker involved in the organizing. Documents shared by Mr Hovey show the company cites a number of issues including dress code violations, late arrivals and excessively long breaks.
And ahead of a recent union election at an REI near Cleveland, management sought to bar certain categories of workers from voting, according to the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The chain, a cooperative that sells recreational equipment, was said to have raised no such challenge in two previous elections in which workers voted to form a union. (The union said the company backed down after workers at the Cleveland-area store left the company, and the store voted to form a union in March.)
Jess Raimundo, a spokeswoman for the United Food and Commercial Workers, which also wants REI stores to be unionized, said the co-op officially fined one employee in Durham, NC, furloughed another and later fired him for an action at the workplace came after workers filed a union election last month.