Overland Park Starbucks closed Tuesday as workers strike in response to alleged retaliation

Workers at the 75th Street Starbucks in Overland Park are striking today, following alleged retaliation from the company's corporate office for unionizing. Photo by Lucie Krisman.

Workers at the 75th Street Starbucks in Overland Park are striking Tuesday, following alleged retaliation from the company’s corporate office for unionizing. Employees of at the Starbucks at 10201 W. 75th St. will leave the store closed for the day as a protest against the company.

What’s happening: Starting at 5 a.m. today, workers intend to strike over alleged unfair labor practices from Starbucks’ corporate office.

Why it matters: The Starbucks location on 75th Street is one of several across the country to unionize this year, including the Starbucks at Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza.

  • In a letter to Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson in February, employees at the store originally cited unsafe working conditions and staffing issues as part of the cause for their unionization.
  • Workers at the store held a vote to form a union in April, which came back 6 to 1 in favor of the union.
  • Seven ballots were challenged, but organizers said three of those included workers who had alleged wrongful firing.

Where it stands today: Workers at the store have reported retaliation from the Starbucks corporate office following their unionization, according to a news release from CMRJB Workers United, an organization that has been working to organize a union for Starbucks workers.

  • This includes threatening to deny unionizing workers of new benefits Starbucks plans to implement, such as extra training and tenured pay increases.
  • Some union-supporting employees have also been fired, or in some cases, threatened with the loss of benefits like gender-affirming health care.
  • Formal charges against Starbucks have reportedly been filed with the National Labor Relations Board, which is in charge of investigating reported misconduct during union organizing drives.
  • Updated: In response to the retaliation allegations, a Starbucks spokesperson provided the following statement.

“We’ve been clear from the beginning that we respect our partners’ legal right to organize and will bargain in good faith with the stores that vote to be represented by the union. That is already underway at several stores across the country. Any claims of retaliation are false.”

Hopes for the strike: Alydia Claypool, one of the striking workers, said retaliation began fairly early on in the process of unionization.

  • Claypool is one of a few Starbucks employees that have been fired at unionizing locations, but her job was later reinstated.
  • She said she hopes the strike can demonstrate to the company that there’s still a lot of support there for the union.
  • “The main thing we’re hoping to show them is that we have always had a majority and we will always have a majority,” she said. “And any retaliation and union-busting that they participated in only deepens our solidarity with each other.”