Feb 8, 2022 - Economy

Starbucks fires Memphis workers seeking unionization

Photo of a Starbucks logo mounted on the exterior of a glass skyscraper

A Starbucks in Chicago. Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

Starbucks has fired several Memphis employees involved in unionization efforts, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Starbucks says the workers violated company policies. The union is accusing Starbucks of retaliating against them.

Details: Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Borges told the Times that the workers allowed at least one media representative inside the store after hours for an interview. Some of the workers were unmasked, per a photo tweeted by Action News 5.

  • "We absolutely fire partners who let unauthorized people or partners in the store after hours," Borges said in an email to the Times. "This is a common, understood policy by partners as it brings an element of safety and security risk that crosses a number of lines."
  • Borges did not immediately return a request for a comment.

The union tweeted that Starbucks fired "virtually the entire union leadership in Memphis after they spoke to the media."

  • "They are repeating history by retaliating against unionizing workers."
  • An administrative law judge ruled last summer that the company illegally retaliated against two Philadelphia baristas who were trying to unionize by firing them.

The big picture: Starbucks workers across the U.S., from Buffalo, New York, to Atlanta, Georgia, have moved to unionize in recent weeks.

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