ST. LOUIS — Employees from three Starbucks stores in St. Louis took to the streets to strike on Thursday.
One group chanted "No Contract, No Coffee," as they crossed Interstate 64 from Forest Park to get to the location at Hampton Avenue and Wise Avenue. The location had a "temporarily closed" sign on the walk-up order window.
Workers from other locations who participated in the strike included Hanley Road and Dale Avenue and Lindbergh Boulevard and Clayton Road.
More than 2,000 employees from 112 stores nationwide protested against the company's refusal to bargain with the union on a first labor deal.
A total of 264 stores voted in favor of union representation.
"We just want them to meet us at the bargaining table. We had free and fair elections," said Moe Mills, an employee.
The 24-year-old has been with the company for just over three years and said she had to create a platform for herself to speak.
"When I speak, I don't really feel listened to very much so we're kind of making them," Mills said.
They and their co-workers marched across Interstate 64 with signs in hand and something to say.
"We're looking for better staffing. A little bit higher wages and living wages,” Mills said.
Carley Brenton started working for the coffeehouse chain during the pandemic. Brenton told 5 On Your Side she did not feel like she was treated fairly when it came to scheduling time off.
“When I tried to get the shifts covered. I was met with a lot of hostility. Also just calling out sick especially during the pandemic just wanting to protect customers and my coworkers,” she said.
Her grandfather Fred Wolfmeyer, a former postal union president, went to the labor council to rally others for support.
"Old guys like me are moving on. We need the younger people to fill in our shoes and so they are here, and community is the face of the union," Brenton said.
Bradley Rohlf, an organizer, said he had just been terminated for being a face.
"They gave a handful of reasons including dress code they were illegally enforcing against our federally protected union logo T-shirts,” the former employee said.
The store baristas said lawyers have walked out of bargaining meetings.
“We want them to actually talk over proposals and work on getting a contract,” Rohlf said.
"We love our jobs. We love the work we do. We just want the tools to do it well," Mills said.
Starbucks said in a statement that it was aware of the walkouts.
"We remain committed to all partners and will continue to work together, side-by-side, to make Starbucks a company that works for everyone."
Thursday was Red Cup Day, which is an impactful day for the chain.
According to the franchise, on Nov. 17 customers can order a handcrafted holiday beverage and receive their free 2022 limited-edition reusable red cup.
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