After unionizing in April 2022, only two unionized Starbucks in Ithaca remain.
The College Ave store was the most militantly pro-union store in town, according to Starbucks employees, and the first to close after successfully unionizing.
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“They don’t necessarily want to give people hours and it makes it hard to have another job or a life,” says Heslop
The Starbucks College Ave store closed on June 10. The company gave only a one-week notice to its employees.
Stephanie Heslop, a Starbucks Employee at the Meadow Street store in Ithaca and her store’s contract point person for the union, said workers spent months in negotiations with Starbucks.
“Management fired the worker who led the strike that College Avenue went on in April, because of an overflowing grease trap that management didn’t want to face and wanted the workers to work through it.”
Heslop said the manager of the former College Avenue location is now manager at the Meadow Street store. continues to give employees a hard time.
It wasn’t until recently that Starbucks came to an agreement on where to move the remaining College Ave workers, moving some to the Commons store, some to the Meadow St. store, and others left the company while waiting for placement. One worker who wanted to return was fired.
Other than difficult people and managers to deal with, employees have also dealt with reduced hours for months.
“Starbucks should have negotiated with the union about the reduced hours and they never did. Now they’re claiming that they can’t extend higher wages and benefits to unionize those because they have to negotiate, even though the union has said we don’t need to negotiate, we will happily accept higher wages and better benefits,” said Heslop.
“It’s definitely an act of union busting,” says Meyer
Pete Meyer is the Coordinator for the Tompkins County Workers’ Center in Ithaca.
The organization supports workers’ rights through their Workers’ Rights Hotline, local community organizing and their Living Wage campaign.
Meyer has worked with coffee unions before: His organization successfully helped workers at Gimme! Coffee unionize in 2017.
“From what I understand there, Starbucks is very much dragging their feet because they’re being overwhelmed. It’s a large multinational corporation so they should figure it out.”
Meyer believes Starbucks is now questioning if they even want to stay in Ithaca as the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, said they are thinking about moving away from being in democratically left-leaning cities and towns because of the crime.
“Thinking about the idea there’s a lot of crime in a college town, is kind of a laughable joke.”
Lawyer: “We have every reason to believe the board is going to be finding merit on all these Ithaca-related charges”
In June, the union’s lawyers filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board that alleged, “Starbucks closed the store in retaliation for activity protected by federal labor law and in order to stop workers elsewhere from organizing, and in violation of its legal duty to bargain over the closure.”
According to Michael Dolce, the attorney representing the interests of Starbucks Workers United, the union has every reason to believe the National Labor Relations Board will find merit on all the Ithaca Starbucks-related charges.
“We have every reason to believe the board is going to be finding merit on all these Ithaca-related charges including the College Ave store closing and issue a complaint in the coming weeks.”
He also mentioned a trial would be following in the coming months.
“We’re talking like October, November, somewhere in there,” said Dolce.
More: STARBUCKS: Reps, workers say it’s ‘clear retaliation’ after Ithaca store shut down following unionization effort