December 1, 2022

Ladue Starbucks workers go on strike after union organizer is fired | St. Louis Metro News | Saint Louis

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VIA BRADLEY ROHLF

Workers at a Ladue Starbucks, located at the intersection of Lindbergh Boulevard and Clayton Avenue, went on strike this morning after an employee was fired.

After an employee was fired Friday morning, Ladue Starbucks employees went on strike, forcing the store to close.

Bradley Rohlf, a shift manager, says he was fired for his role as a union organizer and for wearing union-related T-shirts.

“They’re just trying to dig up all kinds of details they can to come up with a reason why they can justify firing me,” he says. “They want to target me specifically because I’m one of the loudest organizers in the store and I’m a shift manager.”

This morning, Rohlf showed up at 6:15 a.m. for his regular shift. Shortly after, he was called to a meeting with his store manager and another local store manager, who informed Rohlf that he had been fired.

In his official notice of termination delivered to the RFTStarbucks released three reasons for firing Rohlf, including two no-shows in June, COVID-19 protocol violations and dress code violations.

“It’s the same way – if a police officer follows someone behind the wheel long enough, they will find a reason to stop them,” says Rohlf.

Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At 7 a.m., after Rohlf lost his job, almost all of the workers walked out and the store closed for lack of staff. Unionized staff plan to continue the strike throughout the weekend.

“Show Starbucks you can’t mess with us,” Rohlf says. “If you play with one of us, you play with all of us. That’s a union. »

Rohlf believes he was fired for his union organizing efforts, despite what the dismissal note cites. He says the attendance violations date back several months. The violations of COVID-19 protocol, he adds, are weeks old and are minor errors resulting from a failure to fully complete and supervise worker registration forms.

Rohlf says the so-called dress code violations stem from her union-related attire. He claims it’s illegal after the National Labor Relations Board ruled that employers cannot ban employees from wearing union attire in September.

The week after their previous strike in September, management met with Rohlf and three other staff members. They told the workers to stop wearing union T-shirts. He says management called the T-shirts “graphics” and argued they violated Starbucks’ dress code policy.

“Almost everyone in the store wore these shirts from time to time on a semi-regular basis,” Rohlf explains. “Some of us wear it more than others. But they only punish four of the most vocal union organizers in the store, including myself.

Rohlf continued to wear the shirt occasionally until he was fired on Friday morning.

In June, the Ladue Starbucks, located at the intersection of Lindbergh Boulevard and Clayton Avenue, became the first of five St. Louis-area Starbucks to unionize. Employees at nearly 251 Starbucks in the United States have unionized in the past year.

But in late September, workers at Ladue Starbucks staged a one-day strike, saying the company had cut employee hours, leading to understaffing, longer wait times and worker burnout. . They believe it was retaliation for their organizing efforts.

“A year ago we didn’t have these issues because we were well staffed and of course we weren’t talking about union stuff a year ago,” Rohlf told the RFT after their first strike in September. “But it’s clear that the company intentionally understaffed our store to try to chase employees away again.”

Workers across the country have accused Starbucks of dismiss workers for their organizing efforts. In January 2022, seven members of a unionized Memphis Starbucks were laid off. A federal judge then reinstated the workers.

Rohlf says he doesn’t want to quit working at Starbucks. He is considering filing an unfair labor practice complaint in hopes of being reinstated and receiving back pay.

“We fight for each other’s livelihoods,” he says.