The incipient union of Starbucks workers denounced this Tuesday that the coffee chain today fired seven workers from a local located in Memphis (Tennessee) in retaliation for their union efforts, an extreme that the company denies, which justified the dismissal by the “violation of the security and protection protocol”.
“The Starbucks company today fired almost the entire union organizing committee at the Poplar & Highland store in Memphis, Tennessee,” the labor organization wrote in a statement, assuring that the 7 workers represented 35% of the local employees.
Those affected maintain that the company justified its decision by “policies” that they did not clarify and said they were convinced that the dismissal was due to their work in favor of the union.
“This is a clear attempt by Starbucks to retaliate against those of us who are leading the union effort in our store and to scare other workers. Starbucks will not get away with it, the entire country will show its outrage,” said Nikki Taylor, one of the laid-off and working as a shift supervisor.
For its part, a Starbucks spokesman denied in statements that this decision has anything to do with its efforts to create a union.
According to the company, the workers violated several regulations, among which it cited staying in the store beyond closing hours and entering a locked area “without permission or authorization.”
In addition, according to the spokesman, those involved allowed access to people who did not work in the store to areas behind the bar, something expressly prohibited in the internal regulations.
He also insisted that an investigation was carried out in which the internal video-surveillance system was checked.
In the note, the union calls on the people of Memphis and the country to “hold Starbucks accountable for its union-busting and retaliation.”
They also assured that they will report the dismissals to the National Association of Labor Relations.
Since last December two coffee shops in the city of Buffalo (New York) managed to create a union for the first time in the chain’s history, several locations throughout the country are following in their footsteps.
According to data from the union itself, which has also denounced on different occasions the company’s pressure and harassment against workers who defend unionization, stores in at least 19 states have already begun the process to set up a workers’ organization, a movement that the company has publicly rejected.
“If a significant portion of our employees were to unionize, our labor costs could increase and our business could be adversely affected by other requirements and expectations that could increase our costs, change our employee culture, decrease our flexibility and disrupt our business,” the company said in a statement released on December 9 after the creation of the first union.
Additionally, these union organizing efforts “could have a negative impact on how our brand is perceived and have adverse effects on our business, including our financial results,” he added.