Starbucks labor organizer resigns from Buffalo store

Starbucks labor organizer resigns from Buffalo store

A high-profile labor organizer has resigned from Starbucks, saying the company forced her out because of her union leadership.

Jaz Brishack, a barista who led the unionization in a downtown Buffalo store, New York, in late last year, announced Wednesday that her last day with the company would be Sept. 18. According to the National Labor Relations Board, at least 238 U.S. Starbucks shops have voted to unionize since Brisack’s vote.

Brissack wrote to her manager, which Brisack shared to The Associated Press. Brisack stated that Starbucks has not accommodated her availability requests for seven consecutive months. Brisack stated that this has affected the morale of the store where her coworkers have had their backs when she is not there.

“Starbucks has deliberately made my continued employment at the company impossible,” said Brisack, who has worked at the company for nearly two years.

Seattle-based Starbucks said it tried to balance Brisack’s scheduling requests with the store’s staffing needs. According to the company, Brisack worked 20 hours per work week from May. She then told the store that she was only available for 6.5 hour per day. Starbucks claimed that the proposal was not approved as it did not meet the store’s requirements.

“We treat all partners equally, balancing their schedule requests with the business needs of the store,” Reggie Borges, a Starbucks spokesperson, said.

Brisack said that her request was not unusual as many people only work at Starbucks one to two days per week. Borges stated that schedules can vary from store to store, but Brisack’s shop is already so understaffed that it has to close early.

Starbucks does not support unionization. Borges stated that no employee is disciplined or treated differently because they support unions.

Brisack stated that at least 10 her co-workers were fired by the company in the past year. The NLRB filed a federal case in New York in June seeking to reinstate seven union workers who were fired in a Buffalo store.

The NLRB also charged Starbucks with interfering in workers’ rights to organize in Memphis (Tennessee), where seven workers were fired in February. A Memphis federal judge ordered Starbucks to reinstate the workers while the NLRB case is pending.

But, the NLRB lost a comparable case in June when a federal judge denied the agency’s request for Starbucks to rehire 3 workers.

Workers United said Wednesday that it had filed a labor practice charge against Starbucks for Brisack’s benefit.

Brisack stated that she hopes the NLRB will order Starbucks’ reinstatement. She will continue to be on the bargaining panel for her store and work with Workers United to organize other Starbucks locations.

Read More