Massachusetts coffee workers rally for union solidarity on International Worker’s Day

Workers from independent coffee shops and Starbucks locations throughout Massachusetts gathered in Cambridge on Sunday to represent a statewide coalition at the forefront of a rapidly growing labour movement nationwide.

“We have momentum in Boston, coffee and food service workers,” Maria Suevo, a barista at the Coolidge Corner Starbucks, told a crowd of more than 100 gathered in the Cambridge Common. “We have the knowledge and the wherewithal to persevere and escalate until we all receive the contracts we deserve.”

Suevo’s Brookline location was one of two Starbucks locations to secure a union victory earlier this month, the first in the state following an NLRB-supervised election. Tuesday, four additional stores in Watertown, Cleveland Circle, Lower Allston, and Mission Hill will hold union elections.

As the movement gained momentum, Starbucks employees in Boston and across the country claimed that management retaliated against pro-union employees by cutting shifts, firing employees, and placing corporate employees in stores to oversee day-to-day operations.

Starbucks maintains that its local locations are not retaliating against employees engaged in union organising, which would violate federal labour laws.

“We must unite in opposition to union busting,” Suevo told the crowd Sunday. “It will take all of us working together. This is my call to action: we must be connected.”

Sixteen of the nearly 300 Starbucks locations across the country that are organising union efforts with the Worker’s United labour union are located in Massachusetts, where they are collaborating with a smaller movement of independent coffee shops and food service businesses.

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