The National Labor Relations Board seeks to force Starbucks to reopen 23 stores that the coffee giant closed last year, accusing the company of closing union and non-union stores as part of an effort to combat unions.

An NLRB regional director filed a complaint against Starbucks on Wednesday, accusing the company of violating federal labor laws with the closures.

The complaint states that Starbucks closed the stores without prior notice to Workers United, the union that has organized several Starbucks locations, and without allowing the union the opportunity to negotiate the decisions.

A closed Starbucks location at 505 Union Station as protesters protest nearby in Seattle on July 16, 2022. (David Ryder/Bloomberg via Getty Images/Getty Images)

The complaint states that eight of the stores were unionized at the time of their closure, while the other 15 were not represented by a union.

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The NLRB is seeking an order from an administrative law judge requiring Starbucks to immediately reopen all 23 stores, rehire employees, negotiate with unions at stores that have unionized, and provide compensation to workers who lost wages and benefits due to the closures.

Starbucks said in a blog post Thursday that the NLRB's allegations are without merit and that the company plans to defend its “lawful business decisions.”

A closed Starbucks location in Seattle

A recently closed Starbucks along Denny Way has graffiti supporting unions in Seattle on September 14, 2022. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images/Getty Images)

The company said it regularly opens and closes stores for a variety of reasons and noted that it opened 437 new stores in the U.S. during fiscal 2022 and closed 116. Approximately 3% of the locations closed that year were unionized.

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“Every year, as a standard course of business, we evaluate our store portfolio to determine where we can best meet the needs of our community and customers,” a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement. “This includes opening new locations, identifying stores that require investment or renovation, exploring locations where an alternative format is needed and, in some cases, reevaluating our presence.”

Starbucks logo

The mermaid logo on a sign outside a Starbucks coffee shop, March 14, 2022, in Londonderry, NH (AP Photo/Charles Krupa/AP Editorial Staff)

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Workers at more than 360 of Starbucks' 9,300 U.S. stores have voted to join unions since 2021, and the company faces more than 100 complaints to the NLRB alleging a variety of illegal union-busting activities.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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