Ahead of Pride Weekend, a peak time for businesses in Capitol Hill, workers who are part of a union at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery on Pike Street organized a strike at Starbucks will continue until Sunday night. The strike serves as a manifestation of their frustration with the management’s lack of engagement or recognition of their union.
The strike at Starbucks is part of a larger movement occurring at 150 different Starbucks locations throughout the country. The union, Starbucks Workers United, initiated the strike partially in response to allegations that some Starbucks employees were instructed to remove Pride decorations. However, Starbucks refuted these claims in a statement provided to Eater last week. About 3,500 employees will strike at Starbucks over the course of the next week, Starbucks Workers United posted in a tweet.
First Starbucks store to participate in the walkout
The Roastery was the first Starbucks store in the nation to participate in the walkout, according to Mari Cosgrove, an organizer, and Starbucks employee. Cosgrove explains, “We went a little early, we couldn’t resist.”
At 9 p.m. on Thursday, June 22, an hour before the store’s regular closing time, the Roastery staff staged a walkout to commence the strike. Trent Lytle, one of the employees who participated, shares, “It wasn’t fueled by anger. We didn’t confront anyone or raise our voices. One person simply said, ‘Clock out and join us if you’re with us.’ Everyone then abandoned their tasks.”
Charlotte Granados, a union organizer at the store, acknowledges uncertainty regarding the participation of all employees on shift at the time. However, Granados confirms that they achieved 100% involvement, which meant the managers had to operate the store by themselves.
Granados states, “Last night, we faced numerous scheduling issues, resulting in a severe shortage of staff. It was an incredibly busy day.” They further add, “I believe even those who were undecided about joining the walkout decided to support us in the end.”
Transformative and theatrical display of our love for coffee
This walkout marks the second strike at Starbucks the Roastery this year, a notable establishment and the first to be designated as a Starbucks Reserve Roastery. Described on the Starbucks website as a “transformative and theatrical display of our love for coffee” and akin to “what if Willy Wonka built the ultimate coffee shop instead of a chocolate factory,” the 15,000-square-foot space offers immersive tours, tasting experiences, and an extensive menu of food and beverages, including alcoholic options.
According to a press release from Starbucks Workers United, the employees have accused the company of employing anti-union strategies and preventing them from decorating certain stores with Pride-themed items. They believe this is particularly significant as several states are currently pursuing legislation that negatively impacts the LGBTQIA+ community.
At the 18th Street location, workers have expressed their belief that the company is exploiting its LGBTQIA+ employees as a superficial gesture to gain positive publicity and increase profits.
Greg Zajac, a union member, and organizer, emphasized the symbolic importance of this Starbucks store within the LGBTQIA+ community. He stated this on Sunday morning.
In response, Starbucks countered the allegations by stating that they were not prohibiting Pride displays, as rainbow-colored cups would still be available for sale, according to Zajac.
The store typically employs around 18 workers, and Sunday was anticipated to be one of the busiest days of the year, Zajac noted.