Starbucks union workers in Buffalo walk out over ‘unsafe’ conditions

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Workers on the nation’s first unionized Starbucks retailer in Buffalo staged a walkout on Wednesday to protest what they described as “unsafe working conditions” attributable to an ongoing COVID-19 case surge.

Starbucks Workers United walked out simply weeks after staff on the Elmwood Avenue retailer voted to type the union. In a prolonged assertion to The Post, union representatives stated the Elmwood companions — Starbucks’ identify for workers — lack the resources they should keep protected because the Omicron variant rages in the area.

“We, the Elmwood partners, do not feel safe in our store—we were not given the staffing or resources to do our jobs safely due to health concerns and surging COVID cases,” Starbucks Workers United stated in the assertion. “We’re upset it came to this but we deserve to be safe at work.”

Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Borges instructed The Post some staff opted to remain on website, however the Elmwood retailer closed for not less than Wednesday following the walkout. He pushed again on the union’s claims, noting the company closed cafes to prospects and shifted to “grab-and-go” orders solely attributable to an uptick in instances in the Buffalo market.

This morning, Elmwood companions walked off the job attributable to unsafe working conditions. They have been pressured to work by Starbucks regardless of understaffing and well being issues. We imagine everybody deserves the precise to really feel protected at work! Partners will return when it’s protected to take action.

— SBWorkersUnited (@SBWorkersUnited) January 5, 2022

The spokesperson insisted that workers weren’t pressured to work at any level. He stated staff are inspired to self-report signs or potential COVID-19 exposures and keep dwelling if needed.

“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,” Starbucks stated in a press release. “Over and above that, all leaders are empowered to make whatever changes make sense for their neighborhood which includes shortening store hours or moving to 100% take-out only, which is the case in Buffalo.”

Earlier this week, Starbucks knowledgeable staff they should be absolutely vaccinated by early February or undergo weekly testing. The announcement adopted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s directive that enormous employers had till Feb. 9 to implement the requirement.

The walkout occurred as varied industries deal with staffing shortages attributable to a surge in COVID-19 instances. The US reported multiple million new instances on Monday, setting a world report.

The Elmwood workers stated they’re “pressure to go to work is being put on us” by Starbucks. Union representatives stated they met with Starbucks officers on Tuesday to address concerns about “understaffing and unsafe protocols.”

“The company has again shown that they continue to put profits above people. Everyone deserves the right to feel safe in Starbucks stores—both customers and partners,” the group stated.

Starbucks workers on the Elmwood Avenue retailer in Buffalo voted to unionize on Dec. 9, 2021.
AFP by way of Getty Images

“We will return to work when we feel our store is fully staffed and conditions are safe. We hope to be able to safely return by Monday, when isolating partners are expected to come back to work,” the assertion added.

The National Labor Relations Board licensed the workers’ vote in favor of unionization final month, establishing the Elmwood Starbucks location as the primary company-owned retailer in the US to unionize. Votes at two different Buffalo-area places fell brief.

Today, due to our union, we proudly sat throughout the desk from administration to voice the issues of baristas about understaffing and unsafe protocols.

— SBWorkersUnited (@SBWorkersUnited) January 5, 2022

Starbucks opposed the trouble, which acquired assist from nationwide political figures equivalent to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

AFL-CIO President Liz Schuler expressed solidarity with the walkout.

“Today, the courageous @SBWorkersUnited in Elmwood are walking off the job,” Schuler wrote on Twitter. “They’re asking @Starbucks for safe working conditions – and we’re with them all the way.”

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