Nine Starbucks employees at three stores in Denver, Colorado, who were fired shortly after their stores voted to unionize, say they were fired in retaliation for union organizing at the US giant. coffee chain.
The firings are among several dozen cases in the United States where workers have alleged they were fired from the coffee retail chain during an organizing drive at their store. More than 180 Starbucks retail stores in the United States voted to unionize and more than 300 ran for union office.
Ryan Dinaro, a shift manager at the 16th and Tremont store in Denver who worked at Starbucks for about four years, was fired shortly after his store won union elections in May, along with four other workers at his store and five others at two other Denver stores according to the union.
Dinaro explained that the organizing drive began in January after seeing Starbucks workers in Buffalo, New York win their union elections in December 2021. He said they were organizing in response to safety concerns, to policy changes and compensation issues as inflation and rising prices hit Dinaro and his associates.
“Partners sell their blood at the store, including me, I sold my blood to earn extra money,” Dinaro said. “What we’re asking for is simply security in the workplace, adequate pay to deal with the pressure that inflation puts on us, and the ability to have a say in the unilateral policy changes that affect us. »
He argued that before the union election and after it, Starbucks increased management presence in stores and began to strictly enforce company policies, where nine workers involved in union organizing in Denver stores were laid off just weeks after winning the union election. .
Dinaro claimed that the dismissals were in retaliation for the union organization.
“I arrived late for the second time in six months, and Starbucks decided that was enough to fire me. They decided they were going to enforce attendance and punctuality very hard in my case,” he said. “This is an attack on our legal rights to unionise. We deal with these violations through all legal channels and all public channels we can, but they will get away with it for a while because the courts are slow.
Hannah, 28, who asked to keep her last name anonymous for fear of discrimination from potential employers, was fired from her job days after her Starbucks store on Holly Street and Leetsdale Drive in Denver voted to unionize.
She explained that before the union election, her store had a constant presence of managers outside the store who constantly monitored and examined the workers. In five years at Starbucks, she rarely saw district or regional managers, who suddenly visited her store regularly.
“Every day for three months, I walked in expecting to be fired. For five weeks straight they sat me down with a district manager and a manager asking me about what happened that day, what about that customer interaction, and they were just taking notes and some of them were blatant lies that they made up,” she said.
Hannah described the constant scrutiny and scrutiny as harboring a toxic work environment that she says has forced many workers to quit. Other complaints were about reduced store hours, enforcement of policies such as dress codes, or a worker arriving a minute early or a minute late and refusing all of her leave requests.
“They were clearly trying to get me out of there because I was the most outspoken about organizing and encouraging others to be pro-union,” she added. “They don’t care about their workers. They call us partners. They treat us like garbage when we ask for the slightest bit more.
Monique McGeorge, 60, worked at Holly Street and Leetsdale Drive Starbucks in Denver for more than a year before being fired shortly after store workers voted to unionize.
Semi-retired and working part-time, McGeorge strongly supported her younger colleagues who wanted to unionize. She said that after the union vote, the store reduced its opening hours and the presence of outside managers in the store increased significantly.
“People were getting written off for small incidents and it was mostly people supporting the union,” McGeorge said. “The Starbucks culture has changed and they’re going to do what they’re going to do to not have a union and that’s obvious. I can’t believe how many people have been fired in the Denver area alone for supporting the union.
McGeorge explained that his dismissal resulted from obtaining an article while working in the short-staffed drive-thru.
“They fired me and I’ve been there for 15 months without criticism. I never got in trouble,” said McGeorge, who noted that an outside manager was the one who told her she was fired after working a shift on May 24. “When they gave it to me, I just laughed at it. I said, ‘You really clean, don’t you?’ Because it was pathetic.
Starbucks did not respond to requests for comment at the time of publication.