Workers United is urging customers to push for Starbucks’ rehiring of fired workers Credit: Workers United image

The Starbucks store at 6 Great Neck Road in Great Neck, Long Island has fired Joselyn Chuquillanqui, a union leader who stood out in recent efforts to file for union representation at the store. 

Workers at the Great Neck Starbucks—store No. 0884—filed petitions to work with Workers United (an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union) for representation just this past February. Great Neck had joined other Starbucks locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn in filing with the National Labor Relations Board.

At the time, Chuquillanqui was out in the forefront of what amounted to 15 union-ready workers. Chuquillanqui was featured in a Workers United press release as stating: “I have been with Starbucks for almost seven years. I have worked at three stores across two districts with nine different store managers. The problems at Starbucks are not about one particular store or manager but from the way this corporation as a whole is structured. 

“Starbucks claims to have a humanitarian approach to the way they do business. They call us ‘partners’ and create an image that they care about us and that we have a voice and can speak about our concerns. But every time I have raised a concern I have been ignored or vilified. I am tired of being exploited and I am tired of seeing other baristas being chastised when they care about their own safety or about the safety of their families and community. These problems are not new, but they have gotten worse with COVID-19. I am joining the union because we deserve a voice, we matter. We are not cogs in a machine; we are people who deserve to get a say in our work.”

The Great Neck Starbucks unionization vote, which took place in May, failed when workers voted 6-5 against the union. That vote result is being challenged by Workers United who have claimed management engaged in unfair labor practices. But ever since store employees started petitioning for the union vote, Joselyn Chuquillanqui claims she has been targeted by management and in April she received her first write-up—for arriving late to open the store. “I was the main opener for my store,” Chuquillanqui told the AmNews, “and there was another person who at some point was opening the store also. He had been late, like 30 minutes to an hour late, to open the store causing our customers to wait for our opening time because he had been so late, and he wasn’t written up until he did that for his fifth or sixth time. I had one instance where I did something similar, looking at the wrong schedule, and I was written up like the next day for a one-time thing. What they did was, at least from the manager, it seemed very retaliatory.”

Chuquillanqui received a termination letter from Starbucks on July 27.

“This is the first firing of a Starbucks Workers United leader on Long Island and the second in downstate NY,” the New York City Central Labor Council said in a statement. “With this firing and the firing of Austin Locke in Queens earlier this month, it is clear that the company is becoming even more aggressive in their union busting in NY.”

The union plans to file an unfair labor practice complaint over Chuquillanqui’s termination, a Workers United spokeswoman said. 

“I don’t want to stay in the company forever,” Chuquillanqui told the paper, “but I do want to finish growing within my role. I feel like I had just gotten started with like my promotion, I felt like I wasn’t being adequately trained and I just wanted the experience. My manager, before all this—before the union campaign—had said I was like a fast learner, and I had been doing really well. But then after that I started being micromanaged: everything I was doing, and on my shifts…she would push people back on my shift. So, I just want a fair opportunity to do well in my role.”

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