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Starbucks employees at Elmwood location walk off the job over 'unsafe working conditions'

The union says employees were pressured to work despite understaffing and COVID concerns. Starbucks denies the group's claims.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Weeks after becoming the first corporate-owned Starbucks to unionize, workers at the Elmwood Avenue store in Buffalo walked off the job Wednesday morning.

That walkout was over what the union calls "unsafe working conditions."

The union says employees were pressured to work despite understaffing and COVID concerns. They say they will return to work when it's safe.

A spokesperson for Starbucks says some workers stayed on the job, that it hopes to reopen the store, and that the company does not pressure workers to come to work when they're sick. He added that the company takes steps to protect its workers and customers in a statement detailed below:

"Throughout the pandemic we have met and exceeded all CDC and expert guidelines for safety, and we’ve supported partners with vaccine pay, sick days and isolation-pay. Over and above that, all leaders are empowered to make whatever changes make sense for their neighborhood which includes shortening store hours or moving to 100% take-out only, which is the case in Buffalo.

"The health and safety of our partners is of the utmost importance to us. Since we first began navigating COVID-19, we have been transparent with our partners about the steps we are taking to care for their health and safety. Through the last two years, we’ve made decisions through the lens of three guiding principles: 

  1. Prioritizing the health and well-being of our partners and customers
  2. Supporting health and government officials as they work to mitigate the spread of this virus
  3. Showing up in positive and responsible ways to serve our communities"

Starbucks 

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