West Hartford residents hoping to get their morning coffee at the Corbin’s Corner Starbucks were met with a picket line instead this morning. Employees of the store and a few dozen supporters spent the morning protesting the company’s policies on Wednesday.
Travis Glenny-Tegtmeier, a 12-year shift supervisor and employee of the Corbin’s Corner Starbucks was among them.
“We are here today on strike because the management has repeatedly taken down pride decorations that have been put up by employees, as has occurred at numerous other locations around the country,” he explained. “So our primary reason for striking is we feel that is an impingement upon our freedom of speech and our freedom to express our solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.”
June is LGBTQ+ Pride month and the group had a very simple primary demand. Let them put up decorations. According to Glenny-Tegtmeier, this hasn’t been an issue until this year.
Their secondary demand, however, is part of an ongoing struggle between Starbucks employees and their corporate leaders: unionizing. The Corbin’s Corner store was the first in the state to unionize, joining 320 stores across the country.
Glenny-Tegtmeier says their union is still not recognized by the company, despite being legally recognized by the government.
“We’ve had bargaining sessions that have gone absolutely nowhere,” he says. “The company refuses to take us seriously as a bargaining unit, and we want to show them that we’re ready to put our money where our mouths are, and we hope they’re ready to do the same. Sit down in good faith.”
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed suit against the company for similar action at different Starbucks nationwide, claiming the company has violated federal law by refusing to negotiate with the union.
Starbucks, meanwhile, has denied those allegations and said they have adhered to the law and come to the table in good faith.