Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Demonstrators protest Starbucks union-busting

Demonstrators hold signs while protesting in front of a Starbucks location in New York City on April 14, 2022. (Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Store Walkout Over Firing of Starbucks Union Organizer Racks Up 20 Million Views on TikTok

"Starbucks continues its rampant firing of union leaders."

Jake Johnson

A clip of New York Starbucks workers walking off the job to protest the firing of a fellow employee believed to have been targeted for union organizing has now been viewed nearly 20 million times on the popular video platform TikTok, bringing greater public visibility to the coffee giant's aggressive attempts to beat back a movement that has spread nationwide.

Watch:

@sbworkersunited @Starbucks is this what you want to be known for? #starbucks #unionbusters #howardschultz #mellodyhobson #workersrights ♬ No Hands (feat. Roscoe Dash & Wale) - Waka Flocka Flame

Sam Amato was fired from a Buffalo-area store last week after working for Starbucks for more than 13 years. The location, whose employees voted to unionize in March, has been closed since the Friday walkout as workers strike to demand Amato's reinstatement.

Michael Sainato reported for The Guardian on Thursday that months after they voted to unionize, "Amato and his co-workers were transferred to different stores while their own store underwent remodeling, where he said workers were heavily scrutinized by the store manager through disciplinary actions and write-ups."

While Starbucks claims Amato was terminated for closing his store's lobby without permission, Starbucks Workers United says that's a ruse to disguise the deliberate firing of a union leader. Amato says he didn't make the decision to close the lobby.

"This is the week of my thirteenth anniversary at Starbucks and I was fired," Amato told a local media outlet. "I was fired because I was a union leader at my store. My manager couldn't even explain to me why they were firing me. She couldn't look me in the eye."

Amato is one of dozens of union leaders that Starbucks has fired in recent months as the organizing wave continues, expanding to more than 200 locations across the U.S. even as management terminates employees, shutters entire stores, and threatens to deny new wage increases and benefits to organized workers.

In South Carolina, a Starbucks store manager recently went as far as accusing unionized workers of "kidnapping and assault" after they laid out a list of demands during a meeting.

"I cannot believe I have to say this, but workers who are organizing for better working conditions should not have to deal with their boss accusing them of kidnapping and assault. How outrageous," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). "This campaign of rampant union-busting from Starbucks has got to end."

According to a tally by More Perfect Union, a progressive media outlet, "Starbucks has now illegally fired at least 70 pro-union workers since February."

"Overall," More Perfect Union notes, "members and supporters have been fired in at least 20 states."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

California Gov Newsom Proposes Windfall Profits Tax on Big Oil

Calls for windfall profits taxes have increased globally in recent weeks

Common Dreams staff ·


'Incredible': Omar and Khanna Staffers Join Levin's Office in Unionizing

"It is long past time the United States Congress became a unionized workplace, and that includes my own staff," said Rep. Ilhan Omar. "I am proud of all the people on my team who have played a leading role in the staff unionization effort. Solidarity forever."

Jessica Corbett ·


Destructive Hurricanes Fuel Calls for Biden to Declare Climate Emergency

"Mother Nature is not waiting for the president or Congress to declare a climate emergency. She's showing us in real-time here in the United States—with wildfires, floods, heatwaves, hurricanes, and drought."

Jessica Corbett ·


Spain Approves 'Solidarity' Tax to Make Nation's Top 0.1% Pay a Fairer Share

The country's finance minister said that looming changes are bound to make the tax code "more progressive, efficient, fair, and also enough to guarantee social justice and economic efficiency."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Time to Take to the Streets': Working Class Hold 'Enough Is Enough' Rallies Across UK

"Does a CEO need an extra zero at the end of their salary—or should nurses, posties, and teachers be able to heat their homes?" said one supporter ahead of the #EnoughIsEnough National Day of Action.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo