Starbucks accused of ‘retaliating’ against union officials with NY store closure

Union officials have accused Starbucks of retaliation after the coffee giant permanently closed a store location in New York.

On Friday, a formal complaint was filed with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board by the Workers Union claiming that the Ithaca, New York store was being closed out of retaliation for the workers’ recent vote to unionize, Bloomberg reported.

Starbucks denied the allegations and noted that the store didn’t make the cut due to”time and attendance” issues as well as other facilities and staffing issues at the location near Cornell University’s campus.

“We open and close stores as a regular part of our operations,” Reggie Borges, a spokesperson for Starbucks said on Friday.

“With deep care and urgency we continuously work to create the kind of store environment that partners and customers expect of Starbucks. Our goal is to ensure that every partner is supported in their individual situation, and we have immediate opportunities available in the market,” he added.

Employees at the shop voted to unionize in April and held a one-day strike against “unsafe” working conditions after a grease trap overflowed on the floor.

Starbucks employees were livid over the announcement that the recently unionized store would be closing.

“Starbucks won’t get away with retaliating against us like this,” store employee, Evan Sunshine, said in a statement emailed from the union.

“Whatever it takes, however long it may take, we will persevere,” he said.

Starbucks attorney Alan Model reached out to the union on Friday to inform them of the planned closure and to attempt to negotiate regarding the potential impact the employees would face from the store shuttering its doors.

“As you know, there have been many issues with regard to the condition of the store (e.g., the grease trap) and it does not make sense to further operate the store,” Model said in an email.

Workers United leader Gary Bonadonna Jr. issued a statement about the store’s closing, calling it a “blatant act of war” against the members of the newly organized union.

“We have their backs,” Bonadonna said.

Late last year, a Starbucks location in Buffalo, New York was the first to vote to unionize in the company’s 50-year history with a 19 to 8 vote in favor of unionizing.

Two other Buffalo locations also held votes to unionize but the Camp Road store rejected unionization with a 12 to 8 vote. The third location on Genesee Street’s vote was inconclusive after multiple ballots were reportedly changed.

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