Starbucks Workers United storms Twitter after unionized store shuts down

According to Bloomberg, Workers United filed a lawsuit with the National Labor Relations Board on Friday, accusing Starbucks of illegally closing a store in Ithaca, New York, after union efforts there. Now the union is staging a “Twitter storm” to draw attention to the company’s alleged anti-union policies.

The online movement has resulted in nearly 5,000 tweets with the trending hashtags “#ShameOnStarbucks” and “#CollegeAveStrong” since it began at 12 p.m. EST today.

Ithaca Starbucks workers on College Ave. voted to organize in April and held a day-long strike in response to unsafe working conditions over an equipment problem, they said. They were notified of the closure of their store just a week before the scheduled closing date.

Workers United organizers have argued that the store closure is in retaliation for unionization, since Ithaca was the first city in the country where all Starbucks locations were unionized.

“They are closing College Ave permanently because we unionized and went on strike. They gave us ONE week’s notice. There’s no way they can get away with this,” tweeted a worker from Ithaca.

Several other Starbucks Workers United members tweeted in solidarity with Ithaca workers.

Since the first unionized Starbucks location in Buffalo, New York in late 2021, over 100 stores have voted to unionize – the most recent being the first unionized store in Texas. Many more across the county are currently awaiting a union vote.

Amid rapidly increasing union efforts at Starbucks stores, the company has stepped up its own efforts to counter union efforts. Starbucks says on a website created specifically to educate its workers about the union that it is “best for partners” to vote no in a union ballot. Ahead of its first unionized store last year, Starbucks closed two stores near Buffalo after workers signed union cards to prompt a vote.

Additionally, Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz announced last month that employees would receive new benefits, some of which would apply only to stores that did not vote for a union. While all employees (even those who do unionize) get pay increases, new additions like increased training, improved sick leave and credit card tips don’t apply to unionized stores.

Schulz claimed that Starbucks is not legally required to offer these benefits to organized stores. However, NPR reports that Workers United also filed a complaint with the NLRB alleging unfair labor practices in this case.

The Daily Dot contacted both Starbucks Workers United and Starbucks via email.

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*Initial publication: June 4, 2022 at 5:39 p.m. CDT

Laiken Neumann

Laiken Neumann is a freelance journalist based in Austin, Texas, covering culture, entertainment and social justice.

Laiken Neumann Starbucks Workers United storms Twitter after unionized store shuts down

Jaclyn Diaz

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