Great Neck Starbucks Illegally Fired Union Organizer, NLRB Lawsuit Claims

great neck starbucks
Joselyn Chuquillanqui, left, rallies alongside community organizers against her July 27 firing from Starbucks in Great Neck Plaza.
Courtesy Long Island Progressive Coalition

Great Neck Starbucks Illegally Fired Union Organizer, NLRB Lawsuit Claims

A federal lawsuit filed by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Nov. 30 accuses management at the Great Neck Starbucks store of unfair labor practices for alleged union busting and the firing of a union leader, according to legal documents.

As the Press reported in August, Joselyn Chuquillanqui, 28, of Elmont, was fired from the Great Neck Starbucks store on July 27 after what she describes as months of being targeted by managers, an allegation that is detailed in the NLRB’s complaint.

“We deserve the right to unionize our workplaces and to have safe working conditions without dealing with fear and retaliation,” Chuquillanqui tells the Press. “I am glad the NLRB was able to file this lawsuit and that this is going to court because we need to send the message that Starbucks cannot continue their union busting. It proves that what they did to me actually happened, and Starbucks can’t just erase it because they want to.” 

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Starbucks at 6 Great Neck Rd., Great Neck PlazaCourtesy Google Maps

The NLRB complaint also alleges the Great Neck Plaza store’s union busting caused an April union vote to fail. While all 11 store employees initially signed petition cards for a union vote, the vote failed 5-6.

“A partner’s interest in a union does not exempt them from the standards we have always held,” Starbucks’ media relations staff told the Press when the allegations first surfaced during the summer. “We will continue enforcing our policies fairly, transparently, and consistently for all partners.”

Also in November, Starbucks workers at more than 100 U.S. stores, including the Farmingville location on Long Island, went on strike. The workers’ union supplied the figure of 100 stores taking part, though that number could not be independently verified.

The walkouts coincided with Starbucks’ annual Red Cup Day, when the company gives free reusable cups to customers who order a holiday drink. Workers say it’s often one of the busiest days of the year. Starbucks declined to say how many red cups it distributed.

The Farmingville Starbucks location unionized in July and staged the strike to call on Starbucks to bargain in good faith, according to Starbucks Workers United, the union organizing the effort.

Workers say they’re seeking better pay, more consistent schedules, and higher staffing levels in busy stores. Stores in 25 states took part in the labor action, according to union officials.

“We remain committed to all partners and will continue to work together, side-by-side, to make Starbucks a company that works for everyone,” Starbucks said in a statement.

In addition to Long Island’s Farmingville Starbucks store, the Massapequa Village Square and Westbury Plaza locations have chosen to unionize.

-With Associated Press