Activists and supporters demand a citywide boycott of Starbucks until the company negotiates in good faith

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A series of union organizers, Starbucks Workers United members, local activists, political figures and supporters spoke at a press conference outside the College Avenue location of Starbucks on Wednesday after- noon after the store closes for the day. Supporters have called for a ‘Sip-In’ this afternoon to show their support for baristas who have yet to hear from the company if they will have a job after the cafe closes, in one of the corners Ithaca’s busiest malls on Friday and press conference speakers called for an Ithaca-wide boycott of Starbucks and its cafes until the company negotiates in good faith to maintain the Collegetown store opened.

Related: Starbucks is closing one of its oldest Ithaca cafes, company confirms

Staff at the three Ithaca locations voted overwhelmingly to unionize in votes held this spring, and a Starbucks barista and union organizer who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation from the company said College Avenue workers were the most active group in the organizing effort. .

Related: Staff at Three Ithaca Starbucks Coffee Shops Vote Massively to Unionize

Speakers at Wednesday afternoon’s press conference included union members and organizers representing staff from Sciencenter and Ithaca Health Alliance, two local nonprofits with unionized staff.

Also speaking were Ithaca Common Council member Jorge DeFendini, Common Council candidate Tiffany Chen Kumar, and New York State Senate candidate Lea Webb.

State Senate candidate Lea Webb addresses the crowd of employees, supporters and community members outside Starbucks on Wednesday afternoon. 14850 Photo by Mark H. Anbinder.

Starbucks hasn’t made it clear why the location is closing. The Collegetown cafe closed briefly in April when a clogged grease trap overflowed, managers told staff they couldn’t close despite the potential health risk, and baristas walked out in protest. A Starbucks spokesperson told 14850 magazine over the weekend that the establishment’s permanent closure “has nothing to do with the grease trap.”

Another Starbucks representative who did not wish to be identified contacted after this article was published to say that the Starbucks spokesperson who said the grease trap was not a factor was “not correct”.

This second representative, who declined to elaborate on his role in the business, said: “The store has experienced problems with facilities, in addition to time and attendance and staffing issues that have made it difficult to operate. successful.” Staff say ‘staffing issues’ can largely be attributed to the company reducing store hours, making it harder, if not impossible, for staff to maintain enough shifts to earn a living or to respect the minimum of 20 hours per week. right to benefits such as health care.

“While foot traffic may be a bit lighter during the summer months, surrounding businesses that also see a decrease in summer foot traffic continue to thrive in the Collegetown market,” says Common Council Member Patrick Mehler. of Ithaca, who represents the neighborhood. “This business community serves both Cornellians and the greater Ithaca community year-round and it is disappointing to see Starbucks attempting to pull out of Collegetown after workers unionize.”

“It seems patently absurd to us at the Tompkins County Worker’s Center that Starbucks is closing its Collegetown store due to a ‘faulty grease trap, as well as staffing issues,'” says Pete Meyers, TCWC coordinator. , because this Starbucks location is located in an area of ​​the county that attracts a ton of business. We at the TCWC believe that unionized workers have a strong case for an unfair labor practice with the NLRB. We also greatly appreciate the proactivity of the union local Starbucks workers joined, Workers United of Rochester, who were above this unfair labor practice.

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