WEST VILLAGE, Manhattan (PIX11) — A small group of union organizers stood outside the Manhattan penthouse of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz Friday, accusing him of union busting.
“They decided to fire seven of us for unionizing,” said Beto Sanchez, who was is in town from Memphis.
Sanchez made headlines a couple of months ago when he and six of his colleagues were fired, allegedly because they were trying to unionize. The federal government is investigating the incident.
“Something like this has been long overdue,” Sanchez said. “COVID showed the true colors of a lot of companies. They called you ‘essential workers,’ but never treated you as essential workers.”
A wave of unionization is sweeping the country lately, especially across service and warehouse jobs that traditionally have paid close to minimum wage. Friday, across town from the protest, a Starbucks at Astor Place voted to unionize. Organizers said it is at least the 41st store to do so.
Workers around the country are emboldened by an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island, which just became the first of the tech giant’s location to unionize. Voting at a second warehouse wrapped up Friday.
“We’ve been told ‘why not just get a better job?’ And I say I want my job to be better,” said LaKota McGlawn, another Memphis worker. “I love my job. I want it to be the best working place I can be.”
Workers at the protest said a much larger rally is planned this weekend for May 1, known as May Day. Festivities are usually planned to celebrate workers.
PIX11 News reached out to Starbucks for comments on the story, but the company did not respond.