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Ithaca Starbucks workers call for boycott after company closes recently-unionized store

Ithaca Starbucks WEB

Unionized Starbucks workers in Ithaca called for a citywide boycott of the coffee chain’s stores after the company announced it would close its Collegetown location.

The workers said managers gave them a week’s notice that it would shut down the College Avenue location permanently on June 10.


"The only answer that they gave us throughout this entire meeting is, 'We will bargain with your union representatives in good faith.' That is all they said to us and that is not a valid answer to us,” Bek MacLean, a barista at the College Avenue store said speaking at a protest Wednesday.

The union has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, arguing the closure is retaliation for the move to unionize in April.

“It’s been pretty scary here,” Ben South, a shift supervisor at the College Avenue store said. "We still don’t know if we’ll have jobs after Friday and we’re bargaining for the store and we’re not going to give that up.”

South said the company is still bargaining with the union on what will happen with employees from the closing store.

Organizers are asking patrons to boycott Ithaca’s other two Starbucks locations unless the company agrees to keep the College Avenue location open.

Starbucks is denying the closure was related to the union. The company told NPR in a statement this week that closures are a regular part of its operations.

Unionization efforts at Starbucks locations in Buffalo have triggered similar drives to unionize across the country. More than 50 locations have unionized over the past year.

Vaughn Golden has been reporting across New York since 2016. Working as a freelancer while studying journalism and economics at Ithaca College, Vaughn has reported for a number of outlets including the Albany Times Union, New York Post, and NPR among others. Prior to coming to WSKG full-time, Vaughn was a reporter for the Watertown Daily Times. Vaughn now covers government and politics for WSKG.