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Starbucks unionized workers continue walkout on staffing and safety

(Reuters) – Baristas at a Starbucks Corp site. in Buffalo, New York, left their jobs for a second day Thursday to protest what they say are unsafe working conditions amid a further rise in COVID-19 cases.

Workers left their jobs at the Elmwood Avenue site – the only union-owned Starbucks store in the United States – on Wednesday – and say they won’t return until they feel safe.

A third of the employees are absent due to COVID-19, said barista Casey Moore, one of the union organizers in Buffalo.

“The store is severely understaffed, leaving the remaining partners exhausted and overworked,” she said.

Employees who can work have not received N95 masks and “Starbucks has also made it clear that partners are still required to serve unmasked customers, despite statewide mask mandates,” a- she declared.

Company spokesman Reggie Borges said that as of Monday, all 20 Buffalo-area stores had closed seating and switched to take-out only, and some had reduced their hours of service. opening, to deal with a local peak in COVID-19 cases and staff shortages.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have met and exceeded all guidelines from the CDC and safety experts, and we have supported our partners with vaccine pay, sick leave, and isolation pay,” Mr Borges said.

Employees at the store voted on December 9 to join the Workers United union. The National Labor Relations Board certified the election results a week later.

Now Starbucks employees at individual stores in six other cities are seeking elections to vote on whether to unionize.