Starbucks workers hold 'Day of Action' in support of unionization in NYC and around country

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Monday, August 7, 2023
Starbucks workers hold 'Day of Action' in support of unionization
Protesters gathered Monday at Starbucks locations across New York City and all around the country for a "Day of Action." Lauren Glassberg has the latest.

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Protesters gathered Monday at Starbucks locations across New York City and all around the country for a Day of Action.

It was part of a push to spread the word that employees, who are looking to unionize, are getting pushback from the company.

Workers are asking for better pay, better benefits and more consistent hours.

The Starbucks on 5th Avenue and 47th Street is one of the 200 locations people were gathering in front of in the city.

Those taking part say the day is about educating customers and people walking by about the efforts to unionize.

There are about 300 out of the 9,000 locations in the United States that have voted to unionize.

NYC Comptroller Brad Lander is calling for an independent investigation into labor practices.

"We want Starbucks to pay a good return for shareholders, but you can't do it by union busting," Lander said.

In the middle of the wet Monday morning commute, there was a line outside of one Midtown Starbucks, not for coffee, but for a show of support.

"We're out here using the visibility we have to help Starbucks customers and people that like the company know that the company is preventing the workers from fighting for better pay and working conditions," said Alex Iwinski, WGA union council member.

Members of the Writers Guild of America, which is on strike, and 32BJ came together to help spread the word for Starbucks workers and their ongoing fight to unionize.

"Since the first Starbucks unionized in Buffalo in 2021, we've seen Starbucks have an aggressive anti-union campaign. They've violated the law over 200 times interfering with workers' decisions," said New York State Assemblyman Alex Bores, District 73.

The coffee giant says it already offers some of the best pay and benefits in the industry, and that direct communication with the employees works better.

But former employee Riley Fell says problems persisted during her two years an employee and that safety and scheduling were two big issues.

"There are hour cuts. Which means people cannot pay their bills on time. People can't feed their families," Fell said.

This nationwide Day of Action comes during what some are dubbing the summer of strikes.

Actors, writers, hotel employees, and nurses are all taking a stand not only for themselves but for one another.

"It seems to be an existential moment for organized labor in America. There is a lot of anger; there is a lot of discontent," said Michael Winship, WGA East, President.

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