West Campus Starbucks Employees Protest Union Busting
By Stephanie Molina
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas – Starbucks baristas gathered at the West Campus Starbucks at the intersection of 24th and Nueces Street on Saturday to hold a demonstration against union busting in their store.
The baristas announced a petition to unionize in early March making them the first in Austin to do so.
Amanda Garcia, a UT student and Starbucks barista, said their management’s behavior started to change after she and her coworkers announced wanting to unionize.
“We are being analyzed under a microscope,” Garcia said. “It’s like a lot of surveillance is going on and even if it is not directly.”
Workers spoke about the new late policy and shortened hours they believe are in order to make them quit. Nikos Warren, another Starbucks barista, said it is now affecting their personal lives.
“I’ve only been getting four hours a week which doesn’t give me enough access to my benefits and does not give me the hours I need to pay for my rent and stuff like that,” Warren said.
Workers said they need the store to meet the needs of the student workers since those are the people who mainly run it.
“We’re all students, so you know sometimes we are coming straight from class and we need those five-minute grace periods we had before,” Garcia said.
Workers said the new rules were not enforced in early March before the petition, but since signing it, it has put them under more stress. Lillian Allen has worked the longest out of the employees at the store.
“I’ve seen people go into nervous breakdowns by the stress this job has put them in. It’s like you should not have to do that much,” Allen said.
Workers said they need a union because they are stretched thin with lots of labor and less help.
“We need you to hear us, we need support, we need the training, we need the people, we need the hours, we need the wages, to make this enterprise function because you can’t run on empty,” Allen said.
About 50 supporters joined the protest to let their baristas know they are with them.
“They are stepping up and doing it. Hopefully setting a standard across the entire service sector,” said Cerena Ermitanio, a local supporter. “Especially with coffee store workers where often times we are the first people you will see in the morning.”
On Monday afternoon, Starbucks had a statement on its website about the union votes and protests that stated “We do not believe unions are necessary at Starbucks because we know that the real issues are solved through our direct partnership with one another.”
By Tuesday morning someone changed the statement to “We will build a better experience working side-by-side than by sitting across a negotiating table.”
Refusing to give up, the Starbucks baristas continue to call for change and hope to gain more public support. About 250 Starbucks nationwide have filed to form a union and 47 have fully unionized.
There are no other public demonstrations planned for this store location. To show support you can order an item under “union yes” or “union strong” through the mobile Starbucks app. You can also fill out a survey after making a purchase and mention you stand with the employees’ unionization efforts.
“Even if they try to union bust it’s not going to work,” said Garcia.