As the collective bargaining efforts at company-owned Starbucks nationwide continues to pick up steam—over 230 stores thus far have or are currently attempting to unionize—the coffee chain has made a move that some union organizers are calling retaliatory and illegal. The company announced the closing on June 10th the College Ave. Starbucks in Ithaca, New York, one of the three locations in the city to successfully vote to unionize in early April.
As reported by NPR, back in April, workers at the College Ave. location—one of the city’s oldest Starbucks and was on the “busiest and most heavily traveled commercial corners” in the city, per Ithaca-based 14850 Magazine—went on a one-day strike over alleged unsafe working conditions due to “a waste emergency caused by the overflowing grease trap.” That same grease trap was, in part, the reason Starbucks gave for closing the location, along with “facilities, staffing, and time and attendance issues,” according to what a Starbucks spokesperson told Bloomberg.
“We open and close stores as a regular part of our operations,” a Starbucks spokesperson told NPR in a statement. “Our local, regional, and national leaders have been working with humility, deep care, and urgency to create the kind of store environment that partners and customers expect of Starbucks.”
Union organizers, on the other hand, see it differently. Per NPR, the union committee plans to file a a grievance with the National Labor Relations Board, alleging the closure is in retaliation “against worker activities that are protected by labor laws,” further alleging that Starbucks “acted in violation of its legal obligations to bargain over store closure, and that the company closed the store to discourage other workers from unionizing.”
The news comes less than a month after the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against Starbucks alleging 29 charges of unfair labor practices, including over 200 violations of the National Labor Relation Act.
This story is developing…