Workers at the South Minneapolis Starbucks coffee shop on 47th and Cedar Avenue went on strike the morning of Sunday, July 31. The Cedar Avenue Starbucks, represented by Starbucks Workers United, was one of the earliest locations in the city to unionize in early May and had only three employees vote against unionization. This is the first strike by a unionized Starbucks to occur in Minneapolis.
“As Starbucks baristas and Shift Supervisors, we have provided the absolute best possible work under the conditions provided to us,” read a statement written by employees to the store location’s manager. “However, you and corporate have left us to rot exhausted and in pain, leading to the spine of this location, the workers, to deteriorate even more so than anytime before.”
The workers are planning to strike for two days before returning to work on Tuesday, Aug 2. Kasey Copeland, a barista and member of the organizing community with Starbucks Workers United, said striking a second time in the near future is not out of the question if workers’ demands are not adequately addressed.
Copeland said Starbucks corporate promoted the location’s assistant manager to a full manager and changed the store’s hours without any union negotiation. Workers demanded adequate staffing levels and for the manager to join the employees working the floor, with Copeland alleging the store manager remains in the back office during shifts.
Workers also want the store hours that were changed to be reversed. The change in hours caused some employees to miss up to four hours of pay a week for not being able to work the new hours. “I can’t push my availability back because I have two other jobs,” Copeland said. “I’m just losing those hours.”
Copeland also wanted to see a contract negotiation from Starbucks corporate and said their only contact from corporate was a letter that refused the release of information that union representatives requested when the union vote passed. Union representatives responded by requesting dates for corporate to bargain and create a union contract and have not received a reply.
“We know that it’s gonna be a long hard fight to get a contract,” Copeland said. “It’s gonna take a long time; they’re gonna fight us every step of the way. We would like to at least start, and they just haven’t bargained in good faith as they are legally supposed to.”
Hannah Fogarty, who was fired from a unionized Starbucks location in Oak Creek Wisconsin, came out to support the strike. Fogarty alleged there were many labor violations at the location she worked, and that hours were majorly cut for union members.
Fogarty said current laws are inadequate to protect workers and hopes the PRO act will be signed into law to give stronger protections to workers as well as stronger penalties for employers who violate labor laws.
“I hope every Starbucks has the chance to form their own union,” Fogarty said.
Workers will be on the picket line outside the Cedar Avenue Starbucks from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. until Tuesday.
Starbucks Corporate did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Cole Miska is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.