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Starbucks Workers in Santa Cruz Just Went on Strike

Organizer Joe Thompson says the work stoppage will last three days

Starbucks at the Toronto Premium Outlets Shopping Mall in Halton Hills, Ontario Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images
Paolo Bicchieri is a reporter at Eater SF writing about Bay Area restaurant and bar trends, coffee and cafes, and pop-ups.

On Saturday, August 13, workers at a unionized Starbucks store in Santa Cruz will go on a three-day strike. Organizer Joe Thompson, a Starbucks shift supervisor who remains a member of the Starbucks Workers United union, says the stoppage is due to alleged unfair labor practices: Starbucks announced “unilateral changes to hours,” denied wage and benefit improvements based on union membership, and disturbed the union’s ability to distribute pro-union materials, Thompson says. Rallies will be held at noon Saturday outside of 745 Ocean Street Starbucks location, as the Ocean store is the only location participating in the strike. Starbucks workers have held strikes in at least 17 states, and two Santa Cruz locations became the first California shops to unionize in May.

Joe Thompson

Thompson anticipates the majority of the staff will strike from the beginning, 5:30 a.m., to the end of the stoppage on Tuesday, August 16, at 5:29 a.m. The organizer says there was no singular inciting incident for this work stoppage, citing instead a “generally hostile environment.” Thompson says, the 24 unionized employees all voted unanimously to stop work. “We’ve received a lot of support from community partners, first responders, and it feels amazing to have everyone’s resources behind us,” Thompson says.

The NLRB is currently processing numerous labor practice charges against Starbucks. The mega company has been the subject of negative press for its dubious behavior regarding the union during the past year. For the partners in Santa Cruz, and Thompson specifically, it’s about remaining in the fight. Intermittent striking is illegal, so Thompson says the staff will follow guidelines and continue to demonstrate accordingly on behalf of worker rights. “Labor law in the United States is terrible,” Thompson says. “The majority of workers who voted to go on the three day also voted to go on an indefinite strike. If we need to strike over something again, we have support from our employees.”