Starbucks is using the police as strike-breakers

At midnight on Aug. 8, the Boston Police Department received an anonymous call asking them to strike at a Starbucks on the Boston University campus around 5:15 a.m., said Spencer Costigan, the store’s duty manager. Upon arrival, police observed a group of strike breakers taking away furniture that Starbucks workers and supporters had been using to maintain the 24/7 picket lines undisturbed. The police car then stopped for several hours, and the officers inside refused to say who called them there.

During the nine-week strike by store employees at 874 Federal Avenue, a police car was often parked outside the picket line for hours; the store’s baristas were told that was standard procedure during the strike. On at least three occasions, a prisoner transport vehicle was also parked at the scene, according to striking workers. recent, workers tweet After Starbucks threatened to evict workers from the property with trespassing charges, police “harassed and filmed pickets, refusing to show their badges” and misleading participants about the law.

The combination of corporate interests and law enforcement is well known, and it’s no surprise to many Starbucks employees who are committed to unionizing. “The police’s job isn’t to enact real justice or protect people, they’re there to protect capital, they’re there to make sure the rich can force us back to work if we get sick of it,” Costigan said.

The Starbucks Workers Union, an organization that organizes Starbucks workers, has reported multiple incidents of police being called to stores, not only in Boston, but in cities across the country, as a wave of organizing led to more than 320 Starbucks store filings because (out of about 240 stores) win) union elections continue to gain momentum.

In Astoria, New York, barista Austin Locke said he was unlawfully fired at 11:45 a.m. on July 5 for not filing a COVID-19 report after Starbucks, where he worked for nearly three years, fired him. The log, according to the company, wrongfully fired him. Report workplace violence. When Locke started talking to his colleagues about what just happened, management claimed he was still “behind.” They asked him to leave the work area but allowed him to remain in the store’s lobby, he said.

That is, until they suddenly change direction, take the customer out of the store, lock the door, and call the police for trespassing. “They didn’t tell me to leave,” Locke said. “They wanted to follow my example to scare workers away from organizing more, more openly, more action with unions, and I think for a while it had an impact.”

“They wanted to follow my example to scare workers away from organizing more, more openly, more action with unions, and I think for a while it had an impact.”

Locke was prevented from entering the room by the manager and reported the incident; he said video of the incident existed, although it did not show physical behavior. However, the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection deemed Locke’s story credible enough to sue Starbucks on his behalf for firing him without cause. “Why did they call the police? I didn’t do anything. Technically, I was unlawfully fired. So they were wrong, why did they call the police?” Locke said.

Other baristas across the country have also reported that Starbucks management threatened or actually called for enforcement when employees resisted seemingly unfair dismissals.

On August 2, in Pittsburgh, the managers of former Starbucks employees Brett Taborelli tried to force them to resign without letting them exercise their Weingarten rights. a conversation.

When Taborelli refused to accept the outcome of the conversation, management threatened to call the police. “As a queer, even hearing [that they might call the police] It was very overwhelming for me,” they told improving in an interview. “I was like, ‘Why are you calling the police on me? Technically, I’m still an active employee. You told me you’re not terminating me, [that] I opt out. ‘”

Although Starbucks euphemistically refers to its employees as “partners,” the company even alerted its own employees at captive audience meetings. Barista Alydia Claypool said that after one such meeting at a hotel, workers at Starbucks, Kansas, gathered and management called law enforcement as the workers gathered to talk to each other. “It makes it very difficult to have trust in management because they keep claiming they’re not anti-union and then they’ll do something like that,” she added. “Like, wait a minute, this doesn’t add up.”

In Anderson, South Carolina, a manager reported the “assault” and “kidnapping” of 11 workers to police for their “march to the boss” on her in August. Despite video evidence refuting the allegations, police are investigating the issue. Starbucks then used the investigation to justify the paid suspension of 11 employees and bans from all Starbucks stores. Ultimately, three workers were fired for unrelated incidents.

This wasn’t the only interaction store staff had with police. One customer ‘rolled coal’ at them – blowing out the exhaust from the truck – three times while they were on strike and called the barista. When the police showed up, the police accused the workers of putting themselves at risk and questioned why they were on strike.

These incidents prove that Starbucks management often doesn’t have any meaningful way to deal with confident employees. When day-to-day operational processes are challenged, management’s answer is to hire the police.

Meanwhile, workers, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and even a federal judge have found Starbucks to repeatedly violate labor laws. As of Sept. 13, the company or its union-busting law firm Littler Mendelson received 326 allegations of unfair labor practices, according to the NLRB.

Obvious violations by Starbucks include discriminating against unionized workers and workplaces, unlawfully firing workers, and refusing to bargain in good faith. “when [Starbucks CEO] Howard Schultz broke the law and we don’t allow him to be called, even though what he did was totally illegal and what we did was allegedly protected by the law,” Costigan said. “We as workers did not The same luxury. “

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