Downtown New Orleans Starbucks workers file for union election
New Orleans, LA – On April 14, employees at the Starbucks on Poydras Street filed for a union election with the National Labor Relations Board. The store is located in a downtown hotel building, mainly serving tourists, professionals and workers in the area. Over 70% of staff support unionizing.
“I work three jobs just to afford a house and shouldn’t have to do that,” said Stormy Belozerows, a barista and organizer. Baristas complain of irregular schedules that make personal budgeting impossible.
Since the Canal location down the street closed last year, the store has made its highest sales. But workers complain of few and inconsistent weekly hours. They note that customers often have to wait 30 minutes or more for drinks because of too few staff on the floor.
“Our store is making record sales, but corporate says that they can’t afford more hours. They thank us by leaving us understaffed and overworked,” said Serena Sojic-Borne, a union organizer and member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
The store also deals with significant customer disruptions and harassment. During this year’s Mardi Gras, one guest tried to punch a barista across the bar. That customer has revisited the store since that incident and staff has not heard back from corporate about whether or not to ban her. Baristas say she has a friend in local management, Keisha Martin.
“We’re not allowed to ban customers even after they harass Starbucks partners as well as other customers,” shared René Gonzalez, another union organizer.
The Poydras store serves the most tourists of any Starbucks in the city. The filing marks a labor movement inroad into New Orleans’ hospitality industry.
“I’m voting to unionize because we deserve consistent work schedules, a living wage and a proper workplace environment that dignifies the service and value we create as baristas,” summarized organizer and barista Adrian Khes-Kovacs.