Starbucks workers in Seattle have gone on strike over the company’s decision to close a number of outlets.
Staff in the walked out over the coffee giant’s denial to negotiate a contract, the closing of five other Seattle stores, and what they call other “union-busting tactics.”
Starbucks announced the closure of 16 stores nationwide, citing increased crime rates as a threat to partners, prompting the firm to shut the outlets for safety concerns.
Starbucks interim CEO Howard Schultz defended the choice to shut locations in a video.
He blames “Democrat-run cities” for failing to confront increased property crime, drug addiction, and homelessness.
He said: “In my view, at the local, state, and federal level, these governments across the country and leaders — mayors, governors, and city councils — have abdicated their responsibility in fighting crime and addressing mental illness.”
Unionized workers have stepped forward to refute such assertions.
They claim the firm is exploiting the country-wide increase in property crime to hide the “union busting” act of shutting three unionized stores.
Moreover, they also argue that the firm did not give employees early warning or make any attempts to bargain with the union.
When requested for comment, a Starbucks representative denied that the company’s actions were tied to the union locations on many occasions.
The employees protested the firm’s refusal to meet with union representatives for negotiating a contract for workers at the roastery following the store’s unionization vote on April 21.
In a statement accompanying their strike notification, the union demanded Starbucks treat workers as “equals… engaging in mutually beneficial agreement of labor.”
“We are tired of working long shifts with unpaid lunches and long commute times, sometimes for as many as 10 days in a row, and going home to micro-studios without kitchens and air conditioning. “We are tired of going home to empty fridges and wallets.”
Seattle Starbucks Workers United said that they will file a petition to the National Labor Relations Board to prevent the closures and alleges that the shutdowns hindered union action.