ITHACA, N.Y.—While talks between workers and management have stalled to keep the Starbucks location open in Collegetown, local union members organized a picket line for several hours on Saturday afternoon.
Toting signs and shouting classic union slogans, the group marched back and forth in front of the entrance of the Starbucks on East Seneca Street to seemingly positive results. It was the latest public display of frustration from workers, who also organized a well-attended rally on Wednesday outside the Collegetown location alleging that Starbucks is closing the location as retaliation for all three Ithaca stores unionizing in April.
Organizers said they are continuing to bargain with Starbucks management on two primary issues: first is reopening the Collegetown location, but second is working out some provision for workers from that location to have guaranteed spots at other Ithaca Starbucks locations if they want them. Negotiations, though, have been slow moving and without very much movement from Starbucks management.
It’s difficult, they said, to continue to attempt to negotiate in good faith when Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz recently said that he would “never” engage with a Starbucks union. Starbucks Workers United has stated it is using Schultz’s comments as the basis of more charges filed against the company with the National Labor Relations Board. Schultz was the target of one of the more spirited chants on Saturday: “When I say Howard, you say coward.”
Saturday’s picket was meant to reinforce to Starbucks management that the workers maintained community support after calling for a city-wide boycott of Ithaca Starbucks locations on Wednesday until the Collegetown situation is resolved. That drew support from several prominent local politicians, though the impacts of it are difficult to tell without direct knowledge of Starbucks’ profits in Ithaca. In addition to the East Seneca Street, the newest Starbucks location is on South Meadow Street.