Workers at two Portland, Oregon, Starbucks went on strike Wednesday morning over what they said was corporate retaliation against unionization efforts.
Supervisors and baristas at Grand and Lloyd and the Jantzen Beach locations picketed outside the store early Wednesday morning. The walkouts were expected to last 24 hours.
Isabelle Loverich, a shift supervisor and lead union organizer at the Jantzen Beach store, said that managers cut her hours from 40 to 18 a week after she had filed to form a union with the National Labor Relations Board in early April.
“I’ve had to sit through one-on-one meetings with my store manager and the district manager discussing unions,” Loverich said, “and I’ve been told that I have created a hostile and divided work environment for rallying my team behind me.”
A spokesperson for the company released a statement saying that “any claims of anti-union activity are categorically false.”
“We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country. From the beginning, we’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed,” the statement read. “We respect our partner’s right to organize and are committed to following the NLRB process.”
Starbucks Workers United and the coffee company have traded unfair labor practice complaints filed with the National Labor Relations Board amid a store-by-store campaign to unionize the company nationwide. The labor board has in at least one case backed workers in their allegations of retaliation, filing a lawsuit against Starbucks seeking the reinstatement of three fired organizers in Phoenix.
Jordan Stephen, a barista who works with Loverich and has been with the company for seven years, said he hopes Wednesday’s strike “sends a message that we will not put up with union busting tactics.”
The strike in North Portland comes a day after four Portland Starbucks voted overwhelmingly to form unions, becoming the first in the city to do so.
Workers at five Starbucks stores in Oregon and Washington have walked off the job this week over the company’s response to organizing efforts.
“We all have a very common message,” Loverich said. “We’re frustrated three Pacific Northwest union organizers have been fired. We’re frustrated with labor cuts that we continue to see. And we’re frustrated because they’re telling us that we will not qualify for the new benefits that Starbucks is releasing. So as a region, we wanted to come across with a common message and show them that we mean business and we’re not putting up with it.”
Workers at the Jantzen Beach location and two other Portland stores expecting to hold union elections in the coming weeks.