CNN New York --
Starbucks fired a worker in Buffalo, New York who started a movement from one of the first coffee chains to unionize, Starbucks Workers United stated Friday.
Howard Schultz, the former CEO of the company, was also fired. He testified before Congress last week about the company's labor practices.
The union stated that Alexis Rizzo was the shift supervisor at the Genesee Street store on Buffalo for seven years. After the federal labor board certified the results, the store was among the two that won their union campaigns. Rizzo was the first worker to contact the union.
Starbucks Workers United stated that "This is retaliation in its worst form." Two other employees were also fired, and a union leader was arrested.
CNN still needs to hear from Rizzo and Starbucks.
"Instead of negotiating a union contract, Starbucks has decided to double down on illegal union-busting by firing Alexis Rizzo," Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted Friday night. He said Rizzo must be reinstated.
On Wednesday, Schultz, a pro-union senator, put pressure on Schultz for his alleged union-busting techniques when he testified before Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions.
Howard Schultz, former Starbucks CEO, testifies before Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee at Dirksen Senate Office Building, Capitol Hill, on March 29, 2023. The Committee will discuss the formation of unions in Starbucks stores across the nation and hear from witnesses who were fired for organizing unions.
Sanders stated that Starbucks had waged the most illegal and aggressive union-busting campaign in American history over the past 18 months.
Schultz pointed out that the average hourly wage for baristas in the company is $17.50, which is higher than minimum wage in many states (including Vermont, Respectfully Chairman Sanders' [state]).
Three-time CEO claimed he preferred the company have a direct relationship to its employees rather than going through a union. He denied that the company had violated labor laws and said he was not a union buster.
Nearly 300 locations voted for Starbucks Workers United. Judges of the National Labor Relations Board found that Starbucks had committed 130 labor violations. The agency has also filed more than 70 complaints against it. Starbucks has also filed a series of complaints against its union. Schultz testified before Congress that the company views these claims as 'allegations' and not facts.
Starbucks and the union are yet to sign a contract.
Sanders stated that it was not just Starbucks' anti-union activities or their willingness to violate the law, but also their calculated and deliberate efforts to stall.
The union stated in a statement that Starbucks could fire their leaders but cannot stop our movement and the public from seeing it.