Workers at Unionized New York Starbucks Store Continue Walk out Over Staffing, Safety

By Reuters
Reuters
Reuters
January 9, 2022 Updated: January 9, 2022

NEW YORK—Baristas at a Starbucks Corp. location in Buffalo, New York, walked off the job for a second day on Thursday in protest of what they say are unsafe working conditions amid a new rise in COVID-19 cases.

Workers left their positions on Wednesday at the Elmwood Avenue location—the only unionized corporate-owned Starbucks store in the United States—and say they will not return until they feel safe.

A third of employees there are out because of COVID-19, said barista Casey Moore, one of the union organizers in Buffalo.

“The store is drastically understaffed, leaving the remaining partners exhausted and overworked,” she said.

starbucks-workers
Starbucks workers react as they speak to the media after union vote in Buffalo, N.Y., on Dec. 9, 2021. (Lindsay DeDario/Reuters)

Company spokesman Reggie Borges said that as of Monday, all 20 Buffalo-area stores had closed seating areas and switched to take-out only, and some had reduced hours of operation, to address a local spike in COVID-19 cases and staff shortages.

“Throughout the pandemic we have met and exceeded all CDC and expert guidelines for safety, and we’ve supported partners with vaccine pay, sick days and isolation-pay,” Borges said.

Employees at the store voted on Dec. 9 to join the Workers United union. The National Labor Relations Board certified the election results a week later.

Now, Starbucks employees at individual stores in six more cities are seeking elections to vote on whether to unionize.

By Hilary Russ

Reuters