Saturday, Jan 28, 2023

Starbucks closing NY cafe in what union calls retaliation

Starbucks closing NY cafe in what union calls retaliation

Employees at the Ithaca location, located near the Cornell University campus, voted to unionize in April. A Starbucks in Buffalo, New York, became the first in the United States to unionize late last year

The union representing Starbucks' workers at a cafe in New York State claims the location is being closed by the company as retaliation for unionizing.

The Workers United union filed the complaint with the US National Labor Relations Board on Friday, accusing the company of violating federal labor law by announcing it will permanently close an Ithaca, New York store and alleged it was in retaliation for workers’ union activism, according to Bloomberg.

In response, Starbucks said the closure wasn’t related to the store recently being unionized, but resulted from facilities, staffing, and "time and attendance" issues at the store.

"With deep care and urgency we continuously work to create the kind of store environment that partners and customers expect of Starbucks. Our goal is to ensure that every partner is supported in their individual situation, and we have immediate opportunities available in the market."

Employees at the Ithaca location, located near the Cornell University campus, voted to unionize in April.

The workers at that location mounted a one-day strike after saying there was an unsafe situation at the store, saying an overflowing grease trap had spilled wastewater and oil onto the floor.

Pro-union pins sit on a table during a watch party for Starbucks' employees union election, Dec. 9, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y. 

"We open and close stores as a regular part of our operations," Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Borges said Friday, according to the report.

The union is asking the agency to get an injunction to more quickly prevent or reverse the closure.

"Starbucks won’t get away with retaliating against us like this," Evan Sunshine, one of the store’s employees, said in an emailed statement to Bloomberg from the union. "Whatever it takes, however long it may take, we will persevere."

Starbucks, through its attorney, said the company wanted to negotiate with Workers United regarding the impact on employees.

A Starbucks in Buffalo, New York, became the first in the United States to unionize late last year.

The company operates more than 34,000 stores worldwide.


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