Group trying to unionize Starbucks questions whistleblower dismissal

Erie County

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Starbucks Workers United, the organizing group behind the effort to unionize employees at six stores around Buffalo, said a key figure has been fired. Starbucks disputed that characterization of her departure, saying the employee submitted her resignation.

The group claimed on Twitter that a whistleblower named Brittany had been fired “for exposing Starbucks’ anti-union campaign to partners in Buffalo.” They asked for donations to support Brittany, who they said is battling leukemia, to raise $10,000. Over $8,000 has been raised so far.

Brittany, whose last name was not listed, is a 28-year-old manager of a Starbucks cafe in Arizona. The organizing group says she “has evidence of Starbucks’ union-busting activities.”

“[Brittany] reached out to the workers in Buffalo when she learned the company was sending managers and executives from around the country to Buffalo with the explicit purpose of defeating the union effort,” reads the description from the fundraiser. “Brittany stepped forward as a whistleblower to give testimony to the National Labor Relations Board to support the union’s charges of unfair labor practices at Starbucks because she did not want herself or her coworkers to be put in a position of violating Buffalo Starbucks partners’ right to organize.”

Brittany reportedly planned to leave the company by the end of the month, but received a call from Starbucks on Monday, letting her know she was fired. Though Starbucks told NEWS10’s sister station in Buffalo that they did not fire Brittany, she disagreed when she spoke with a reporter on Wednesday.

She said she submitted her resignation effective for November 28. Brittany also said she was told by a Starbucks official on Monday that “my employment has been terminated effective 11/14 since there was an open investigation against me and it’s company policy to immediately terminate employment when someone resigns while part of an open investigation. “

Brittany also shared text messages with a Starbucks official appearing to say that the company would process her last day on November 14, and that they would not pay out her vacation. But the same Starbucks representative apparently texted her back to say she was mistaken, and that her last day of employment would be November 28, “and you were just supposed to be taken off of the schedule and paid it out.”

If the six Buffalo area locations attempting to unionize are successful, they’ll be the first in the country to do so.

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