Starbucks Roastery workers protest store closures as Schultz says its “just the beginning”
Jul 18, 2022, 12:55 PM | Updated: 1:06 pm
(Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
Starbucks workers picketed outside the Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Pike on Sunday, protesting the company’s refusal to bargain for a contract, the closure of five other Seattle locations, and other “union-busting tactics.”
Starbucks announced the closure of 16 locations across the country, claiming rising crime rates threatened partners, causing the coffee giant to shutter the locations for safety reasons.
Howard Schultz, the interim CEO of Starbucks, defended the decision to close stores in a video leaked by KVI-AM talk radio host Ari Hoffman on Twitter. In the video, he puts the blame back on “Democrat-run cities” for not adequately addressing the rising property crime, drug addiction, and homelessness.
Schultz blamed elected leaders of the Democrat cities where the stores are closing “at the local, state, and federal level, these governments… and leaders, mayors & governors & city councils have advocated their responsibility in fighting crime & addressing mental illness. pic.twitter.com/M8vTJgchCE
— Ari Hoffman (@thehoffather) July 13, 2022
“In my view, at the local, state, and federal level, these governments across the country and leaders — mayors, governors, and city councils — have abdicated their responsibility in fighting crime and addressing mental illness,” he said.
Unionized workers have come forward disputing those claims, saying that the company is using the rise in property crime nationwide to obscure the “union busting” of closing three unionized stores without advanced notice to employees or bargaining with the union.
Starbucks union to bring lawsuit against company, disputes reason for closures
When asked for comment, a Starbucks spokesperson has repeatedly denied that the company’s actions were in any way related to the union stores.
The workers were also protesting what they claimed to be Starbucks’ denial to meet with union officials to bargain for a contract for workers at the roastery following the store’s April 21 election to unionize.
In a statement to Starbucks with their notice to strike, the union asked the company to treat workers as “equals … engaging in mutually beneficial agreement of labor.”
“We are tired of working long shifts with unpaid lunches and long commute times, sometimes for as many as 10 days in a row, and going home to micro-studios without kitchens and air conditioning. We are tired of going home to empty fridges and wallets. We are tired of having our humanity stripped from us. We deserve dignity, happiness, and the lease on life that was enjoyed by [Howard Schultz’s] generation.”
Seattle Starbucks Workers United has announced that they would file a suit with the National Labor Relations Board for a 10(j) injunction to stop the closure, saying that the closures discouraged union activity.