House Education and Labor Committee Chair Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is pressing Workers United to come clean about a Starbucks barista who did not disclose she was a paid union organizer when testifying before Congress last year.
Foxx sent a letter Monday asking why Workers United gave “no indication” of its relationship with Michelle Eisen, an employee of the coffee chain who appeared before the House panel on Sept. 14, 2022.
Eisen, who represented herself to lawmakers only as a Starbucks worker, disclosed in a labor organization form that she was paid $49,734 by the Service Employees International Union affiliate in 2022, The Post exclusively revealed in May.
“On her Truth in Testimony form, Ms. Eisen represented herself exclusively as a Starbucks barista,” Foxx wrote to Workers United International President Lynne Fox. “Members of the Committee and public observers would have benefitted from knowing whether Workers United was paying Ms. Eisen as an organizer at the time of the hearing.”
Foxx also noted that the Starbucks Workers United Twitter account shared much of Eisen’s testimony and even identified her as a “union leader” during the hearing.
The GOP chairwoman requested Eisen’s dates of employment with Workers United as well as any assistance she may have received with her written testimony.
Lying to Congress, whether on disclosure forms or otherwise, is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, but is rarely prosecuted.
Fox, the Workers United International president, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Eisen worked at the first Starbucks to unionize in Buffalo, NY. Given the undisclosed union ties, her employment may have been part of an effort by Workers United to “salt” the workplace with labor-friendly workers.
The union employed at least 10 other baristas in Buffalo before the organization push, according to Bloomberg, at least one of whom sought to build trust with a manager by pledging to rat out employees who complained about workplace conditions.
Workers United shelled out nearly $2.5 million in 2022 alone to Starbucks employees involved in the unionizing effort, LaborUnionNews.com reported.
The union also owns a 40% stake in Amalgamated Bank, which funneled more than $700 million into fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil and nearly $70 million into tobacco and gun companies, according to the Center for Union Facts.
In her House testimony, Eisen said she appreciated “the opportunity to work for a company that had a reputation of being progressive, caring about their communities, and most importantly taking care of their employees.”
“Unfortunately, over the last several years things began to shift within the company,” she added. “I realize now how naïve I was, but I honestly believed that Starbucks was at heart the progressive company it proclaimed itself to be.”
Starbucks Workers United said in December it had successfully organized in 270 stores — a change opposed by interim CEO Howard Schultz, who has engaged in a counter-effort by visiting stores nationwide.
The conservative National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has also circulated decertification petitions at Starbucks in Buffalo, Rochester and New York City.