Fresh off the heels of a historic series of union wins for Starbucks stores across the nation, four Starbucks stores located in and around New York City just filed to hold union elections, including the Williamsburg Reserve cafe at 154 North 7th Street.
In an excerpt from a letter addressed to CEO Howard Schultz, the group writes:
“Our location has not been provided with store leadership, instead forcing partners to rely on support from managers of other stores and borrowed supervisors with no vested interest in Starbucks North 7th. The leadership we have received has relied on threats and bullying tactics to reach profit margins at the expense of employees’ lawfully required breaks, pay and safety. There is an ongoing lack of communication regarding store hours, affecting both partners and the customer base at large. It falls on partners to provide new employees with training and support, despite not receiving the increased earnings awarded to trainer staff. This leads to disciplinary action being taken with no prior warning to partners or corrective guidance being issued.”
As the city’s first Starbucks Reserve location, the group believes they have upheld a high standard of customer service, despite being overworked and understaffed. In 2019, Greenpointers reported how the poor sanitation conditions at that particular location led to a temporary closure from the city’s Department of Health.
In December 2021, Starbucks workers at a Buffalo store voted to form a union, making them the first unionized location of a corporately-owned store, and other locations have since followed suit.
It’s not a decision that has curried favor with CEO and failed presidential hopeful Howard Schultz, whose long-standing opposition to unions is well-known. A union news site says that he recently embarked on a tour of locations in an attempt to discourage further union action. At a Starbucks in Long Beach, California, Schultz reportedly told a worker “If you hate Starbucks so much, why don’t you go somewhere else?”
Assemblymember Emily Gallagher praised the news on Instagram, sharing a post of her and her staff at that location. State Senator Julia Salazar also welcomed the news on Twitter.