WESTFORD — Starbucks workers in Westford, who originally voted to unionize on June 3 in an 11 to zero vote in favor, have voted to go on strike through Labor Day weekend.
The strike comes as two partners — what Starbucks calls its baristas — were fired from the Westford store on Wednesday. Workers allege their termination came without proper notice.
“So for them to be doing that is seen as retaliation, especially since we unionized back in June,” said Starbucks employee Madison Connors. “We had said that something needs to be done about this, so yesterday we organized a sickout, and we had 15 of 20 of our partners to vote to strike.”
She continued, “we told them it would be a three-day strike, and Monday we’re going back.”
Wages have also been a sticking point for workers, with wages starting at approximately $15 an hour for new employees.
“There were raises that were promised to us back in the fall of last year,” Starbucks employee Vicky Coyne told WestfordCAT. “But any new policy that happened did not apply to unionized stores. But this was promised to us before we even thought of unionizing.”
She continued, “they did some other petty things like a new dress code that’s more lenient but doesn’t apply to us because it’s a new policy [and we’re unionized]. ”
Workers hope the strike will allow management to “take us a bit more seriously.”
“We would just like to have a meeting with them,” local Starbucks Workers United President Austin Gryglak told WestfordCAT. “That’s all we want to say about it right now.
Gryglak said that though some workers are concerned about management shutting the store down, he believes Starbucks will remain in Westford.
“There have been some anxieties about it,” he said. “But we are legally protected and so for any time Starbucks has tried to retaliate against a group that is unionized, the NLRB has been very quick to respond and get people reinstated.”
Even as they strike, workers hope to return to serving their customers in the coming days.
“The hope is we can just get back to work and get back to our customers,” said Connors. “Part of the reason I’m a part of this is because I really like the customers that come in here.”
“It’s been really unfortunate that part of our job has diminished recently. When we’re understaffed, the first thing to go is our connection with our customers.”
WestfordCAT left a voicemail with District Manager Gordon Pundrothu who was unavailable for comment at the time of reporting.
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