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The Starbucks Union-Busting Playbook – The Stranger – The Stranger

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Well it happened again. On Monday, Starbucks announced plans to close another store in town, bringing the local total to seven. It’s the first Seattle location. It was increasing.”

The spokesperson should Seattle Times He said the company’s concerns about worker safety led to the closure of Broadway and Denny’s, and that “attempts to address safety concerns at the location were ineffective.” Employees at the other five closed stores tell a different story.

They said the closures all followed a similar pattern, aimed at halting union activity rather than dealing with safety. I am concerned about following company safety directives.


Starbucks barista Rachel Ybarra said employees have complained about safety issues since she started working at Broadway and Denny stores two and a half years ago. She witnessed people taking drugs, having mental health crises, and becoming violent in her stores. I asked them to hire a security guard. In fact, they decided to form a union, in part, to bring the issue to Starbucks’ attention, she said. But this year, even after the union won her 9-0 unanimously on March 22, the company refused to post security guards at its stores.

At a store closing meeting in late May, Starbucks district managers told employees they didn’t need security guards and there were no security guards, multiple employees said. people who do not knowA month later, however, the atmosphere at the company seemed to have changed.

Four employees, Ybarra, Stephanie Neighbors, Olivia Canti and Boruto Stuart, said their bosses began encouraging them to file “incident reports” in June. These internal reports are usually reserved for events that require employees to leave work for more than a few minutes, but management said that “even if someone walks into the store feeling a little offended.” I encouraged my employees to start submitting reports.

Management also said all reports must include a police report number, according to workers. That means you have to call 911 for each of these “incidents”. If they acted as instructed, management told the employees that they would hire security guards, just like the shops near Olive Way.

So the workers followed orders and waited for help from the company. The company announced its closure this week. According to his barista Cantey, the “mitigation efforts” the company referred to were simply “we begged them to do something and they haven’t done anything.”

Same deal at Pioneer Square

Employees at the Starbucks store at 505 Union in Pioneer Square had a different kind of security problem. Due to its unique location outside of Union Station, overlapping traffic security teams monitored the area outside the store, but employees wanted a security guard inside the store to help them with the restrooms. Complaining about the condition, the employee said he had conveyed his concerns to his supervisor. But Starbucks was hesitant to pay security to control access because another company, Vulcan Real Estate, had already overseen the building’s security, according to those workers.

Mari Cosgrove, who has worked at the location for four years, said there were “years of” talks with the company about putting security guards at the store after employees filed a union petition in March. said it had been discontinued. And in June, the company issued a new directive.

“I was encouraged to write a report, no matter how small the incident,” says Cosgrove. “Even if it’s just the customers that smell,” she said, district managers can bring these incident reports to businesses and call 911 for serious cases to bring them to their attention. guaranteed to

After store employees won a 6-3 union election later this summer, Starbucks shift supervisor Erin Bray said the company had sent a security consultant. Workers told consultants they felt safe in the cafe, according to Bray. Nonetheless, on July 11, Starbucks announced plans to close 505 Union and four of his other stores, citing “safety concerns.”

At a store meeting about the announcement, Bray said Starbucks regional managers had handpicked extreme incidents in the neighborhood to justify the closures, citing the recent discovery of a dead body nearby after hours. At that “contempt” and “gaslighting” meeting, Bray said the workers weren’t there because of the incident, and many said the company had told employees how they felt. He expressed his anger.

Same deal at Ballard and elsewhere

At Ballard’s 9999 Holman Road store, employees voted 11-1 to join Starbucks Workers United on April 29.

Four employees had similar disagreements over whether Starbucks or the attached QFC were responsible for cleaning the restrooms, so the store’s restrooms had been unused for several months before the union vote. Confirmed. For months there weren’t even stall doors. But barista Eli Adams said the company stopped communicating with them after the vote.

Then, in June, the District Manager visited the store for a “Team Building and Problem Solving” meeting, where she also gave new directions. According to employees, managers want the company to take care of themselves and reports of the incident said Starbucks will create a paper trail to resolve the matter. Their store was a success and the only problem was the bathroom door. That’s why employees say they filed accident reports every day with the toilet still out of order.

On August 23, 9999 Holman’s managers announced that they had exceeded financial targets and received the highest “Customer Connectivity” score in the district. But later in the day, the manager announced an emergency mandatory online meeting, where employees huddled around phones in a back room when the district manager announced that the store was closing and as a licensed store he would be moving to the QFC. I said there was a crowd. (A Starbucks rep noted that the move was not Technically The employee asked how long the company had been planning this remodel, but the manager did not answer.

“The tone she used, the way she was all down, made it very clear what had happened,” said Kyan Adams, the barista’s former barista. Another worker, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said: “I thought I was making a paper trail to help customers and colleagues, but the paper trail was used to close the store. I did.”

An employee, who chose to speak anonymously for fear of reprisal, said stores in Jackson, Westlake, were closed Monday under similar circumstances.

In response to all of this, a Starbucks representative said, “If safety issues in and around the store continue to jeopardize the well-being of our partners, we will close the location and work with our partners to move to other stores. We will support the relocation of

divide and conquer

When the company closes those stores, Starbucks will give employees the option to move to another location. But some employees say the stores Starbucks offers aren’t convenient. Also, the manager had been providing workers with consistent working hours for two months at the new store, in accordance with federally mandated contracts, but now many managers are cutting their hours.

Bray is one such worker. “Union members in closed stores have moved to stores that are already fully staffed and cannot or will not provide the stability of time we need to make ends meet. It protected our income for only a short period of time, but now that time has passed,” she said.

One employee, who was transferred after the store closed, said his working hours were significantly reduced after the two-month grace period ended. This is of particular concern as he loses health care benefits when he falls below 25 hours a week.

As for Holman Road employees, those who agreed to the transfer initially reported being happy with the new store, but now that the two-month transition period is over, their hours have already been reduced. said that

In a statement, a Starbucks representative said, “These partners are encouraged to connect with their unions if they have concerns about the implications of the bargaining agreements proposed and agreed on their behalf.”

Employees at stores that are open are worried that filing an incident report will trigger a store closure and disrupt their livelihoods. Shift manager Daisy Federspiel Beyer described her union affiliate store at 4147 University Way as a “hitden” store. They have guards. “I would like to file an incident report in the hope that I can get help, training, or resources,” she said. Is difficult.”

This isn’t just for Seattle

Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt LLP associate Marina Multhaup, an attorney at Workers United, said employees at closed stores across the country should report all incidents, even if customers are speaking up. “Starbucks has taken advantage of genuine concerns for employee safety,” she said.

“From the beginning, we have argued that the closure of these stores was intended to retaliate against unionized stores, prevent unionization among stores talking about it, and cool union activity across the country. I did,” she said.

She also noted the coincidence that the December 9 closing of Broadway and Denny’s will mark the first anniversary of the successful union vote in Buffalo, New York. “I can’t get around the fact that I’m not kissing someone,” she said. is.”

Broadway and Denny workers, meanwhile, haven’t given up. “If Starbucks wanted me to quit the company, they would have to kill me,” Ibarra said. “I’m going to die before I let this movement die. I’m going to create a fucking union at Starbucks. We can’t shut down all our stores until it’s gone.”

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