WORCESTER - The parking lot at the Starbucks at 11 E. Central St. in Worcester was empty on Monday afternoon as signs on the entrance and at the drive-thru window show the start of a workers’ strike.
Staff at the East Central Street location went on strike on Monday morning, joining five other Starbucks locations across Massachusetts currently on strike.
A sign at the Starbucks entrance said workers were on strike until further notice. The location is one of three Starbucks in Worcester, the others being at the Trolley Yard plaza on Park Avenue and inside Target on Lincoln Street. A fourth Starbucks is currently under construction on Grafton Street.
The East Central Street Starbucks employees unanimously voted to unionize on June 30. The location has around 40 employees. The employees claim that after forming a union, Starbucks brought in a new manager in retaliation who created a hostile work environment, which triggered the decision to strike.
In a letter listing specific grievances, the union alleges that management at the East Central Street Starbucks had threatened workers with job loss, cut their hours, understaffed shifts and made homophobic and transphobic remarks while allowing others to make racist comments.
“I’ve been working at Starbucks for 16 years since I was 18 years old,” said Baily Fulton, a Worcester Starbucks employee currently on strike. “It’s inexcusable the way that they treat us in the stores and then act like it’s not happening and it’s not a problem.”
Other Starbucks employees across the state also rallied at the Boston office of the National Labor Relations Board on Monday in protest of the decision that unionized stores would be excluded from receiving raises and new benefits which were given to all ununionized Starbucks shops.
Workers in 250 Starbucks stores across the United States have held unionization votes, with 206 of those voting to unionize according to by the union.
During the strike kickoff rally on Monday morning, several elected officials such as state Rep. David LeBoeuf, District 5 city councilor Etel Haxhiaj, at large city councilor Thu Nguyen, candidate for state Senate Robyn Kennedy, Worcester mayor Joe Petty, who is also running for state Senate, and school committee member Sue Mailman were in attendance to speak and promise support to the striking workers.
The employees plan to hold a picket line outside the store daily from 9 AM to noon until the strike ends.