My name is Joe Agins, Jr. and just before Christmas almost eight years ago, I was illegally fired by Starbucks. The world's largest coffee company put me out of work because I was seeking to improve the job with a labor union.
Since then, I had to leave New York where I was born and raised because I could no longer afford to live there. The stress of losing my job combined with the stress of the court case contributed to the break up of my relationship and separation from my daughter. It's been a rough time leaving home and trying to find work while dealing with the unraveling of my family; I wasn't always sure I'd make it.
I, like many other workers, had fallen victim to Starbucks' anti-union campaign, indistinguishable from Wal-Mart's. Three judicial determinations have held that Starbucks broke federal law when it fired me for sticking up with my-coworkers for reliable work schedules, pay to support our families, and respectful treatment from management. But year after year has gone by and Starbucks is choosing to spend enormous sums on legal fees instead of accepting justice in the case of one barista.
Nominated by President Obama today for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Patricia Millett is the attorney for Starbucks trying to cut down my nearly eight year quest for justice. She argued in the Second Circuit to reverse the three judicial victories that I have won against the anti-union strategy that her law firm devised for Starbucks.
Ms. Millett successfully got my case sent back down to the National Labor Relations Board where it's quite possible that I will lose after all these years. But it gets even worse. She is now claiming that the Labor Board does not have the power to even rule on my case because she argues that President Obama's appointees to that federal agency are unconstitutional. Under her tortured logic, I'm in a legal purgatory where I can't win (or even lose) as the years continue to go by.
Corporate lawyer Patricia Millett is disconnected from the reality facing working Americans like me and her legal track record makes clear that she would not be able to rule impartially on questions of worker freedom of association.
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