Armed with signs, chants and plenty of free coffee, employees of Gimme! Coffee and community members gathered last Friday outside the Cayuga Street store of the famous coffee shop chain in an “informational picket” to protest what they contend to be the wrongful demotion of an employee.
The September 29 demonstration was spurred by the May 2019 demotion of barista Rebecca Lespier, who workers believe was demoted as a result of anti-union discrimination without just cause, according to the union’s Facebook page.
A “just cause” standard, negotiated with the chain’s ownership in the C 2018 union contract, requires that disciplinary action against employees is enacted with clear reason and that the employees are given fair warning, according to Samantha Mason, a Gimme! barista of five years who helped organize the original union contract.