A Starbucks barista and union organizer in Buffalo, New York, said they were fired after 13 years of working for the company, according to a viral TikTok.
@sbworkersunited Replying to @user5582129244131 Starbucks unjustly fired Sam, a 13-year Starbucks worker & union leader. This would NEVER have been a fireable offense. @Starbucks is trying to get rid of union leaders & using BS reasons to terminate us. #shameonstarbucks #unionbuster #starbucks #union #sbworkersunited ♬ original sound – SBWorkersUnited
In the TikTok, Sam Amato says he was pulled aside this week by two store managers and fired for closing the store’s lobby without a manager’s permission. According to the TikTok, workers were told by upper management that they could close the lobby at their discretion.
“It is a BS reason. It’s because I’m a union leader,” Amato said in the video. “They failed to provide any details or give me any information … after 13 years they refused to give me any details about why I was fired.”
At the Starbucks Amato worked at, workers promptly went on strike over the dismissal. Amato has a GoFundMe set up to help him transition out of his job, which has raised $3,825 at the time of writing.
Starbucks has been repeatedly accused of firing employees for organizing or being affiliated with the Starbuck Workers United Union, which has successfully unionized 183 stores. According to More Perfect Union, at least 70 pro-union Starbucks workers have been fired since February of this year. Amato is the ninth union organizer to be fired in the Buffalo area.
Starbucks has engaged in a massive union-busting effort as the traction for unionization increases. The company has been accused of faking tweets from the official Starbucks union, closing down pro-union stores, and sending out-of-state managers to spy on stores looking to unionize. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has said the country is being “assaulted” by the “threat of unionization”
“I can say I’m anti-union, and [that] I don’t want to see that at Starbucks. But I’m not an anti-union person,” he said in a town hall, insisting that he was instead “pro-Starbucks.”
Reaction to Amato’s firing was swift on Twitter.
“I was abt to take the fam to #Starbucks, but we will not be returning anytime soon due to your firing Sam Amato in retaliation for his Union Leadership,” one user wrote. “You guys used to be a socially conscious company. What a shame.”
“Almost went to Starbucks this morning, but then didn’t because they fired [Amato] after 13 years of hard work and dedication because he was a union leader,” another said. “And we don’t support companies like that. Do better Starbucks.”
Starbucks did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Dot.
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*First Published: Aug 9, 2022, 9:03 am CDT
Jacob Seitz is a freelance journalist originally from Columbus, Ohio, interested in the intersection of culture and politics.