Entertainment Post

Starbucks Workers Alleges Company of Closing Because of Union Activism


Photo: Orlando Dispatch

Employees at Starbucks stores in Ithaca, New York, are being unionized. The company has announced that they will be closing down some locations as a result, according to the workers. 

The worker committee is filing an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that Starbucks is performing a “clear attempt to scare workers across the country,” said a press release from Starbucks Workers United. 

The company announced that it would be shutting down one of its locations, which is located near Cornell University.

Starbucks stores in Ithaca voted yes on unionizing, making it the first fully-unionized city of the company in the US.

Workers at the College Avenue location made a strike on April 16, alleging “unsafe working conditions” because of a “waste emergency” due to an overspill in a grease trap, according to the union. 

The store barista, Nadia Vitek, said that the grease trap had been an issue for some time now and made a terrible smell which customers could also notice. They reported oil on their floor as well. 

“Now they’re closing the store, and the only concrete reason that they’re giving us is the grease trap,” Vitek stated. “And it feels blatant when you connect the dots.” 

The district manager of this location organized a meeting with the workers on Microsoft Teams to inform them about their closing, said Vitek. 

“I was shaking as I was hearing them say the news,” Vitek stated. “They didn’t even explain in the call that it was a permanent closure. I got that in an email from the anti-union lawyer that Starbucks has.” 

A Starbucks spokesperson stated that the giant opens and closes locations under its regular operations strategy. However, they did not provide any reasons behind the Ithaca closure. 

“Our goal is to ensure that every partner is supported in their individual situation, and we have immediate opportunities available in the market.” 

But Starbucks staff at the branch are worried that they will run out of hours, with other locations in this area already scrambling.

“Starbucks is continuing a divide-and-conquer strategy. But, you know, even though we’re grieving, we’re all ready to fight,” Vitek continued. 

The Workers United alliance of the Service Employees International Union is filing lawsuits against Starbucks for unfair labor practices.

“It’s a violation of federal labor law to close a store because workers exercised their legal rights,” an attorney of Starbucks Workers United, Ian Hayes, said in a statement. “We… have no doubt the NLRB will prosecute the company for this illegal union-busting, and justice will be done.”

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