SCOTTSBORO, Ala. (WHNT) — Starbucks employees in Scottsboro are continuing their fight to form a union at their store.
News 19 spoke with the employees at the store off U.S. 72 and John T. Reid Parkway in early June after they sent a letter to corporate with their intent to vote on forming a union.
The employees aligned with Starbucks Workers United, a group that’s helped more than 170 stores across the U.S. form unions in the last year.
Then, on June 28, the store was closed with signs on the door reading, “Our store is temporarily closed.”
Pro-union workers reached out to News 19 to say that the closure was so Starbucks could have meetings with staff members regarding unionizing. Siera Moore, one of the employees in favor of forming a union said, “they decided to shut the store down so we can have conversations with them I suppose.”
“They’re trying to feed us false information that’s their personal stories with unions, but it’s not the same kind of union that we’re in,” Moore continued.
Moore said Starbucks brought in a regional manager, a district manager, and managers from stores in Florence and Prattville. She indicated that it felt as though Starbucks was trying to intimidate the store employees out of voting yes on the union vote.
“It’s about three to four people in each meeting, with four managers there to talk to them,” Moore explained. “So it’s definitely broken down into as small of groups as possible so that less people feel comfortable speaking up to them.”
She said every employee of the store was scheduled to participate in one of the meetings during the store closure on Tuesday.
The pro-union employees spent the afternoon gathered under a tent just off the parking lot of the store. They had coolers with cold drinks, sandwiches, and cornhole boards. The employees seemed to be in good spirits and said they were there to support each other.
News 19 also spoke with Kelsey Lockhart, another pro-union employee. Lockhart is one of the original employees of the store and said her favorite part of the job is the people she gets to meet.
“My favorite thing about my job is the customers,” she said. “There are a few regulars that we talk to on a daily basis and I actually became best friends with my best friend because of Starbucks.”
Lockhart told News 19 she wants to form a union because she wants to protect her hours. She said she was dropped from full-time to part-time without a warning. “So instead of giving every partner that was full-time a warning, and ways to get hours or money since we needed that, they just didn’t schedule for 40 hours,” she said.
She also said that the cut back on hours isn’t due to overstaffing, in her opinion. “This Starbucks I know for a fact is understaffed,” she said.
The hours are the main reason Siera Moore is also voting yes on the union vote.
“The hours being cut has been very difficult,” Moore said. “You know, I have two kids, and I’m a single mom and I need my hours to pay my bills and my rent,” she said.
Moore told News 19 she’s getting around 29 to 33 hours a week, “and I used to get 33 to 40, so it’s like a struggle.”
News 19 reached out to Starbucks via their media relations line several times on Tuesday to confirm the reason for the store closure and get any additional details surrounding the union vote. There have not been any returned phone calls or emails as of June 29.
In a statement sent to News 19 on June 9th, Starbucks wrote:
“We’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed.”
Read the full statement here.
When it comes to the union vote by store employees, Moore said, “Starbucks Corporation has been pushing back the vote as long as they possibly can, because they know the longer they wait the more workers that we’re going to lose, and you know, the more likely that it goes in their favor.”
Moore said employees hope to have a date set for the vote by the end of the week.
News 19 asked if there are any employees who aren’t in favor of the union, Moore said she knew a few were on the fence. “I’m feeling like it definitely is a majority that is in support of,” she said. “We do have a couple of people that were kind of nervous but we’re not forcing them to do it if they don’t want to, we’re giving them the information to make the decisions as they see fit.”
If the store does vote in favor of a union, it will become the second Starbucks in the state of Alabama to do so. One of the stores in Birmingham unionized in May.