SAG-AFTRA & WGA East ‘deeply saddened’ by judge ordering Starbucks employees trying to unite to hand over communiqués with reporters
SAG-AFTRA and the WGA East, which together represent thousands of broadcast and digital reporters, say they are “deeply saddened” by a federal judge’s ruling that would allow Starbucks to subpoena a wide range of communications between employees who union and journalists reporting on their organizational efforts.
Last month, Judge John Sinatra Jr. of the U.S. District Court, appointed to federal court by former President Donald Trump, issued a highly unusual decision ordering the union to organize Starbucks employees in Buffalo, NY, to send emails and text messages between the workers. and “any digital, print, radio, TV, Internet or other media outlet” related to their organizational campaign.
His injunction stems from Starbucks’ request to subpoena the communiqués as part of a discovery in a protracted legal battle between the coffee chain giant and the union, Starbucks Workers United, which is now appealing its decision in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. .
“Two fundamental issues are at stake here,” SAG-AFTRA and the WGA East said in a joint statement. “First, the ability of working people to communicate openly and freely about their struggles, including talking to journalists without fear of being monitored by their employers or retaliating against them. Second, the ability of journalists to get information about vital labor struggles without worrying that their communications – and their sources – will be exposed and their access to reliable information will be compromised.
“Allowing employers to subpoena communications between journalists and working people seeking a voice at work, exercising their right to participate in collective action, will inevitably cool the rights of both journalists and workers. Make no mistake, employers who subpoena these communications are not neutral truth seekers. They are looking for ammunition to counter their workers’ efforts to organize. We’re talking about employers looking to thwart their employees’ efforts to build their own power, to address real concerns at work, to engage in collective bargaining to improve their terms. We hope this decision is reconsidered by the court or overturned by the Court of Appeal.”