Seattle Starbucks stores join 3-day strike as union fighting intensifies

Three Seattle Starbucks coffee shops have joined a nationwide three-day strike that began Friday, an escalation in the fledgling union’s push to secure contracts for the newly organized stores.

Workers at stores in downtown Seattle and Madison Park have joined those who expect a sit-down of 100 stores across the US over the next three days.

Workers at Starbucks sin for closing unionized stores and refusing union demands for good faith bargaining and fair treatment. Workers at Special Reserve Roastery, at Minor Avenue and Pike Street, will picket over the weekend; Those from the Madison Park store would continue to picket Saturday; Workers at Fifth Avenue and Pike’s Department Store plan to strike on Sunday.

The event will be the longest strike in the history of the Starbucks labor union, which celebrated its one-year anniversary last Friday. Last month, eight Washington stores, including the Fifth and Pike locations, joined 110 U.S. stores in a one-day rally for Starbucks’ annual Red Cup Day, when the company gives out reusable cups to customers who order a holiday drink.

“We demand that Starbucks and (CEO) Howard Schultz immediately end union abuse, come to the negotiating table in good faith and protect the lives of the employees they claim to care so much about,” said Katie Merritt. Supervisor at Madison Park Store.

Starbucks spokesman Andrew Trolle said workers’ allegations that Starbucks targeted unionized stores to close and rejected bargaining in good faith are misleading. He said the work stoppage disrupted the “Starbucks experience”.

“Despite these delaying tactics, we remain focused on working together and engaging meaningfully and directly with the union to make Starbucks a company that works for all, and we urge the United Workers Organization to keep their promises to partners by moving the negotiation process forward,” Troll said. Starbucks refers to workers as partners.

Merritt said workers at the Madison Park store were denied the opportunity to bargain or sign a contract. She said union workers’ hours are cut during one of the busiest seasons of the year and they are denied credit card tips, which non-union stores have implemented.

“Although Madison Park Starbucks is known as Howard Schultz’s home store, we’re just like any other Starbucks,” said Merritt. “If Howard neighborhood store baristas are treated this poorly, it only speaks to the injustices suffered by Starbucks associates nationwide.”

In Seattle, the union and Starbucks are awaiting a National Labor Relations Board judge to rule whether the company’s decision to add exclusive benefits to non-union stores violates federal labor law. The United Workers’ Organization is also protesting the union’s shop closures.

Six stores, including the city’s first union store on Broadway and East Denny Way, closed in Seattle. Starbucks alleged that unsolvable safety concerns threatened the well-being of customers and those working in those stores. But the union said closing the shop was in retaliation.

Of the 9,000 stores in the United States operated by Starbucks, 261 have unionized since late last year, according to the NLRB.

Starbucks Workers United has filed at least 446 unfair labor practice charges against the company, including allegations that Starbucks fired labor organizers and refused to bargain. Starbucks has brought 47 counts against the union, including allegations that United Workers violated bargaining rules by recording sessions and posting recordings online. The syndicate claims there was no recording.

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