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Brookline Starbucks Union Returns to Work After Months-Long Strike

Unionized employees took to the picket line indefinitely July 18, alleging a “hostile work environment”

Starbucks Strike In Brookline
Signs on the picket line outside Starbucks Coffee in Brookline, Massachusetts, where unionized workers just ended their months-long strike.
Photo by Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Unionized baristas at a Brookline Starbucks ended their months-long strike yesterday, September 21, Boston Starbucks Workers United announced. This marks the end of “the longest documented action ever against the coffeehouse chain,” as the Boston Globe described it in August.

The employees of the Starbucks store at 874 Commonwealth Avenue, near Boston University, have been on the picket line virtually nonstop since July 18, protesting what they alleged was “a chaotic and hostile work environment” since their vote to unionize in June. A nationwide unionization wave has led to numerous accusations that Starbucks is union-busting — and to sanctions against the global coffee chain from the National Labor Relations Board.

Brookline employees detailed their concerns and demands in a letter to Starbucks management in July, including an allegation that the interim manager was illegally threatening to discipline or terminate employees who didn’t comply with a new policy — one that shouldn’t have been implemented in the first place since Starbucks didn’t bargain in good faith with unionized workers.

In their declaration of victory yesterday, Boston Starbucks Workers United said the district manager confirmed that he would involve the workers in an investigation of the interim manager’s workplace behavior and was actively seeking her replacement. The announcement also said employees were looking forward to collaborating on scheduling and labor needs with the district manager, who “informed us that he was willing to address our concerns about understaffing upon our return.”

A spokesperson for Starbucks had a different take on the situation, telling that employees were returning to work with no new conditions. Despite trying to undercut the union’s declaration of victory, he told the publication, “We look to moving forward with scheduling collective bargaining sessions with Workers United representative(s) at this location.”