Starbucks near the Washington Square campus of New York University has joined a national movement to unite in unions to raise wages and improve working conditions.
The Starbucks location on Astor Place has joined an active national trade union movement, teaming up with two New York stores and two Starbucks stores on Long Island to raise pay and improve working conditions. This was announced by the store Astor Place petition for union status to Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson on Feb. 10.
Astor Place Starbucks, located near the Washington Square campus of New York University, wants initiate a vote for union membership March 3 along with other locations in New York and Long Island. Astor Place employees seek to combat gender discrimination, inadequate protection of workers, inadequate compensation and COVID-19 problems.
“The union can give us a voice,” said Rhythm Heaton, an employee of Astor Place Starbucks. “It’s realistic [demands] that we can negotiate with Starbucks, and I hope and still feel optimistic that Starbucks will meet us in a good place to negotiate honestly. ”
Starbucks in Buffalo, New York, was the first store in a chain of coffee shops unite in a union, joining the national Workers United union in December. Later, the Buffalo movement created its own national organization, Starbucks Workers United. Then another Buffalo store created an alliance in January, becoming the next winner of the show.
“Until Buffalo in America in general, there was an attitude where – especially in the service sector – the union – it’s a funny idea,” said Heaton, who is also a leading member of the organizing committee of Starbucks Workers United. This will affect a large number of employers and workers in our country. “
Since then 103 of 9000 Starbucks offices in the United States have applied to join the union. In other New York it persists joined the Uniate efforts include the flagship Starbucks Reserve Roastery in the Manhattan area, a store in Caesar’s Bay Mall in Brooklyn and stores in Great Neck and Massapequa in Nassau County on Long Island.
Astor Place employees, who are members of the joint organizing committee of Starbucks Workers United, called the reasons for joining the union an unfair salary and ignoring the welfare of employees. Starbucks refers to its employees as partners, but Astor Place employee Edwin Palma Solis said he feels like a robot instead. He expressed concern about the schedule, saying he was always trying to take extra changes.
“The union will better support us by making these changes in our working hours and just by being able to take into account everyone’s health and mental health so that we can feel like partners for partners,” Palma Solis said.
Union members also said union membership could effectively combat the unfair working conditions that were exacerbated by COVID-19. According to Heaton, the pandemic forced workers to resign, increasing staff turnover.
“Living in New York is hard work, and often you just run,” Heathon said. “Many of these people are students who also have to do a huge amount of school work when they leave work and then come to work tired and then they have no money. It’s just frustrating. “
Heaton said Starbucks in New York corresponded to former mayor Bill de Blasio Fair Justice Act. – which prohibits fast food chains from reducing working hours without good reason – by following strict attendance protocols.
The Elmwood-Buffalo location also proposed the Just Cause Act as part of a larger contract negotiations for joining a union, as well as increasing compensation if the store operates with a reduction in staff and limited food and beverage benefits. Right now the workers can’t get it free food any day when they are not working.
“A lot of people were counting on it while eating for a week,” said Steinhardt Sr. Mac Abraham, another member of the organizing committee at the Astor Place store. “They can just make these changes that we are not entitled to.”
Abraham said that although managers at Astor Place Starbucks have not expressed anti-union sentiment, some workers are still afraid union break from Starbucks, and that the union will challenge the company’s protocols and treatment of workers.
“I would like us to live in a society where we don’t have to have unions, to be treated as people in our workplaces,” Abraham said. “But, unfortunately, this is not the case. Big corporations don’t really value employees who actually make a profit – they just want to see more profit for themselves and for the company as a whole. “
Contact Alina Hollister at [email protected]