Strikes are brewing in Tallahassee
Tallahassee, FL – On September 5, Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) and Serenity’s Bartenders United called strikes. SBWU demanded delayed back pay and Serenity’s Bartenders United wanted the reinstatement of a fired manager.
The Starbucks on North Monroe in Tallahassee was the first Starbucks in the state of Florida to file and win their union. This happened just over a month after the first store in the country was unionized. Ollie Carter, a Starbucks partner for seven years, explained how the pandemic spurred the organizing at the store and how quickly the “ugliness came” from corporate management. While none of the baristas have been fired for organizing at this store, Starbucks has moved partners from different Tallahassee stores who were organizing to the already unionized North Monroe store.
Elijah Reid, along with the rest of the organizing committee at a separate Tallahassee store, was moved to the North Monroe store earlier this year. Reid explained that the reason for the strike was to demand backpay for raises withheld from the unionized store. From August 1 to August 29 a total of $5247.73 was withheld from workers as a punishment to those attempting to unionize.
Around 20 members of the community came out in solidarity with the union while dozens honked in support of the striking workers.
Later that same day, workers at Serenity Culture Co. engaged in a strike outside the front of their establishment. Serenity workers unionized in April and since then have been struggling with ownership to fight against discrimination, unfair wages and poor treatment. This strike happened after months of discussion with ownership about racist comments from previous management and a refusal to accept decisions made by staff.
After the previous management left, the workers voted for their next manager. While this was a first step to the “worker-run company” that ownership promised, this was quickly taken away. Tyler, one of the bartenders, explained how ownership wished to “tokenize members of FAMU” instead of truly integrating Serenity Culture Co. with the larger FAMU community.
Serenity workers were sick of what they saw as performative actions from ownership and demanded change. After chants, customer testimony and community engagement, the workers hoped that the owner would be forced to accept their demands. Instead, management decided to fire everyone and permanently close the store.
Although these strikes had different demands and different results, they were unified by a single purpose: improving working conditions at both of the stores.
If you would like to help the SBWU or the former Serenity employees, support the fired Serenity workers at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/serenity-bartenders-united?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1
Support the Starbucks strike fund at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/donate-to-show-solidarity-with-john-knox-partners?utm_campaign=p_cp+share-sheet&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer