Baristas at one of Chicago’s first unionized Starbucks held strike action after over understaffing.
Workers at the branch in Edgewater say they have been asking the firm to solve what they say is chronic understaffing for more than three months.
They decided to walk out on Friday, July 1, after their concerns were not met.
Teddy Hoffman, a shift supervisor at the café, said employees have been raising concerns for nearly three months.
He has been with the company since 2015, and at the Edgewater location since it launched in 2018.
Staff say due to the store’s shortages, individual baristas are undertaking the duties of two or three employees.
He said workers are skipping breaks and punching out late, are unable to meet hygienic standards, and are unable to “give that Starbucks experience to customers that we signed up for.”
The coffee giant has denied the claims and in a statement on Sunday, July 3, spokesperson Sarah Albanesi said the Edgewater location “has not, by any metric, been understaffed.”
She said the store’s hours have expanded in the recent six months from 2021.
Baristas planned to strike on Friday and Saturday, returning to work on Sunday.
Workers at the branch unanimously voted to unionize in late May, which meant the store one of Chicago’s first two unionized Starbucks, along with a second branch in Edgewater.
Alison Guerrin, a barista at the store said: “We’re not just striking because work is hard.”
She has been with the firm for almost two decades and has worked at the Edgewater store since it began.
She said she had previously encountered staffing problems during her tenure at Starbucks; however, this phase of understaffing has been more prolonged than others.
She added: “A lot of us have worked for this company for a long time and have seen this company be really great, and we want to be able to provide that amazing customer experience to people consistently like we have in the past.”
Hoffman felt the store’s lack of staff was the consequence of “upper-level corporate retaliation” for its unionization efforts.
Starbucks has been staunchly opposed to the unionization drive within its workforce.
The National Labor Relations Board’s regional offices have lodged more than 60 accusations against the coffee giant, citing a variety of labor violations.
Last week, agency authorities filed a federal court lawsuit seeking a nationwide cease-and-desist order against the corporation for what they claim is substantial illegal anti-union practices.
Four Starbucks in Chicago had decided to unionize with Starbucks Workers United, a Service Employees International Union branch that represents its employees.
Two of these stores are in Edgewater, with the others in Bucktown and Hyde Park. In June, two more city outlets lost union elections.
Since January, ten Chicago-area shops have filed for elections, most recently in Edgewater and West Rogers Park.
As of last week, roughly 300 Starbucks employees countrywide had registered for union representation.
The union has lost 28 of the 208 conducted elections. Some election results were still being challenged.
Source: Chicago Tribune