A cashier is seen at a Starbucks coffee shop. Seven workers at a Starbucks in Memphis, Tennessee, were fired by the corporation on February 8, 2022, amid a union drive. (Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

'We Won't Be Silenced': Workers Fired by Starbucks Amid Union Drive Speak Out

"Memphis workers are calling on partners around the country to support them by organizing more stores across the nation," says Starbucks Workers United.

Less than 24 hours after they were fired amid a unionization effort at a Starbucks in Memphis, Tennessee, former employees of the giant coffee chain reiterated that they don't intend to back down.

The corporation is trying "to silence us and we won't be silenced," Beto Sanchez, Lakota McGlawn, Nikki Taylor, and Nabretta Hardin--all four members of the union organizing committee at the city's Poplar and Highland Starbucks location--told pro-worker media group More Perfect Union during an exclusive interview shared Wednesday.

According to the erstwhile shift supervisors and baristas, they were fired on Tuesday for "policies that were never enforced before."

Amy Holden, the former manager of the Memphis Starbucks who resigned in November after nearly 10 years to protest what she called the company's "unfair" hiring and promotion practices, told More Perfect Union that the terminations of seven pro-union workers violated Starbucks policy. "This is definitely union-busting," she said.

Starbucks Workers United, which is representing company employees seeking to unionize at various locations around the United States, reportedly plans to file charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The union said on Twitter that "Starbucks is retaliating against union leaders and supporters in Memphis for policies they've never consistently enforced before."

"Memphis workers are calling on partners around the country to support them by organizing more stores across the nation," the union added.

As Common Dreams reported last week, workers at more than 50 Starbucks stores in 19 states have taken steps to form bargaining units in the wake of the successful unionization of employees at two Buffalo, New York-area stores.

Last month, AFL-CIO president Liz Shuler accused Starbucks of deploying anti-union tactics in an attempt to defeat the ongoing nationwide wave of organizing. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has also denounced the corporation's union-busting efforts while calling Starbucks workers an "inspiration."

On Tuesday, Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia (D-Ill.) tweeted, "I stand with the Starbucks workers fired in Memphis."

"It's retaliation, plain and simple," said Garcia. "Corporate big wigs couldn't stop the unionizing efforts that started in Buffalo, New York, so now they're using classic anti-worker, union-busting tactics to stop Starbucks Workers United."

Starbucks' war against the unionization of its stores comes as its profits surged by 31% in the final quarter of 2021. CEO Kevin Johnson--who saw his compensation soar by 39% to $20.4 million in 2021--announced last week that the corporation plans to increase prices even more this year.

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