Affected workers have filed unfair labor practice charges with the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and scholars agree the timing of the closures may signal union-busting. But there’s not a whole lot workers can do. If the NLRB eventually finds Starbucks and Chipotle guilty, they may only owe back wages, a relative slap on the wrist for the big corporations.
That being said, store closures are unlikely to quash union activity altogether. Workers, strapped with crushing student debt, high housing costs, and stagnant wages, have compelling reasons to join and sustain the unionization wave.