Starbucks workers and local supporters rallied to stop union-busting
On Monday, Aug. 15, Starbucks workers and local allies joined fired union leader Joselyn Chuquillanqui to demand her job back and cease its union-busting activities. Starbucks workers at the Starbucks located in Great Neck Plaza Shopping Center filed a petition to unionize in February. After months of targeting Chuquillanqui for her leadership in the union, she was fired after seven years at the company on July 27.
When the union election took place in April, actions against Chuquillanqui and other pro-union Starbucks workers escalated. Starbucks workers are being fired all over the country for organizing and standing together to unionize.
In Great Neck, members and representatives from local organizations came to support Chuquillanqui. In attendance was the Teamsters, Long Island Federation of Labor, Workers United, Long Island Jobs for Justice, Long Island Progressive Coalition, Nassau County Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Local 1199, UAW Local 2325 and more. Friends and family of Chuqillanqui, co-workers, Starbucks employees from neighboring establishments and local union supporters came to Great Neck Plaza to fight for Chuqillanqui. With an estimated 100 people in attendance, the rally drew the attention of cars driving by and other shoppers in the plaza.
Supporters made signs with catchy phrases or held up signs supplied by the rally organizers. Various chants were shouted, such as: ‘No justice, no peace!’, ‘What’s union-busting? That’s disgusting!’ and ‘No contract, no coffee!
The rally was held on the corner of Great Neck Road and South Middle Neck Road under the gazebo. Cars driving by honked in support, and pedestrians passing by stopped to learn about the union-busting activities happening in their town.
“I was fired from Starbucks after months of targeting me and creating a toxic work environment,” Chuqillanqui spoke at the rally. “Leading up to the election, there were weeks and weeks of union-busting and poking at everyone’s vulnerabilities, and eventually, we lost our union license. And this is in a store that had 100% union cards signed.”
“I should be reinstated, and I should get my job back,” said Chuquillanqui. “We all deserve to have rights, and we all deserve to have safety on the job.”
People cheered for Chuqillanqui as she spoke and chanted, ‘Rehire Joselyn!’.
DSA organizer from Nassau DSA William Novello took the megaphone to encourage the crowd and support Chiquillaniqui.
“We’re here because all workers deserve the right to representation, a living wage and fair working conditions,” said Novello. “Workers across the country like Joselyn are rising up all over the country in defiance of exploitative capitalist employers and the government that protects them. It’s up to us to fight in solidarity with each other.”
A local organizer from Together We Will Long Island, Carly Paris, said: “I remember unions getting a bad rep, and I am so glad people are coming around and realizing all they bring: connection, community and protection.”
Board member of Long Island Progressive Coalition Joe Sackman said: “Solidarity means community. When we embrace the idea of solidarity and practice the idea of solidarity in our lives, we are looking out for each other, building a community, protecting each other and making our lives better.”
Solidarity was a common theme in the speakers’ speeches at the rally. At one point, a supporter in attendance shouted, “Solidarity means when one of us is attacked, we are all attacked!”
Support went beyond the immediate local with Brandi Alduk, a Starbucks worker in Astoria, Queens. Alduk came to Great Neck to stand with Chiquillaniqui, represent the supporters from the Starbucks location in Astoria, and share the union-busting experience.
“I’ve also experienced some of Starbucks anti-union behavior, attempting to push union organizers out of our stores, cutting our hours, intimidating us saying we have to open our availability to negotiated hours or operation changes,” shared Alduk.
“My store has been standing together. We are one of the unanimous stores at the beginning of this campaign, we are faltering a little, but everyday we actively choose to step together and work together to fight against the corporation,” said Alduk.
After hearing from several more passionate speakers, the rally began their march to the Starbucks doors. Supporters took their signs raised high and loud chants through the busy parking lot and to the front patio of the open Starbucks. At this point, a few cops arrived to monitor the rally and keep things under control.
While the rally was civil, the supporters made their voices heard. Starbucks shut its doors and barely acknowledged the dozens of people shouting at the glass windows and doors.
Flyers circulated with information on the union-busting situation and a QR code to scan that brings you to opencollective.com/sbsolidarity. Visit the website to donate funds to the fired Starbucks leaders in New York.