Coffee Tree workers accuse management of union busting | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Coffee Tree workers accuse management of union busting

click to enlarge Coffee Tree Roasters location in Shadyside - CP PHOTO: RYAN DETO
CP Photo: Ryan Deto
Coffee Tree Roasters location in Shadyside
On Jan. 18, the Coffee Tree Union Twitter account announced they have filed four new Unfair Labor Practice charges against their employer. An unfair labor practice is an action by an employer that violates the National Labor Relations Act, which protects one’s right to join, organize, or help a union.

Workers at Coffee Tree Roasters have been campaigning since late last year to unionize with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776. Coffee Tree Roasters is a Pittsburgh-based coffee chain with five locations throughout the region and about 52 baristas, according to a union filing.

Since then, workers who support the unionization campaign say Coffee Tree management has interfered with their right to form a union through intimidation, retaliation, and bribery.


The union campaign Twitter account outlines their newest charges.

They accuse management of trying to intimidate workers via surveillance, writing, “on Sun., Jan. 2, the owner’s sister visited the Shadyside location with a man and they proceeded to film three vocal union supporters that were working behind the bar as an intimidation tactic.”
John Fetterman speaks at a rally in support of a worker who alleges he was fired from Coffee Tree Roasters for labor organizing on Jan. 5. - CP PHOTO: RYAN DETO
CP photo: Ryan Deto
John Fetterman speaks at a rally in support of a worker who alleges he was fired from Coffee Tree Roasters for labor organizing on Jan. 5.
Workers say the hours of many pro-union baristas have been cut. “Several baristas — many of which were featured in our recognition video — have seen a significant cut in hours,” they write. “The COO of the company has taken away the scheduling powers of some managers and refuses to schedule these baristas their usual hours, interfering with income they depend on.”

The union campaign also says that management has promised unspecified benefits if baristas vote against a union, recalling, “One of the union busters has been at several locations posing as the new ‘Employee Relations Manager,’ stating that he had a lot of new benefits in the works, but it was all up in the air now, because of our union effort. Additionally, baristas are being told that they had raises coming in the near future, but they can’t get them because of this campaign.”

Workers also say management offered modest raises to the Shadyside store and demanded they not tell workers at other stores and have abruptly begun writing up employees “excessively.”


Coffee Tree management did not respond to a request for comment.

UFCW 1776 also filed charges of Unfair Labor Practice last month with the National Labor Relations Board against Coffee Tree management for firing an employee who was a vocal union supporter. Under the NLRB Act, workers cannot be fired, disciplined, demoted, or penalized for labor organizing.

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