Starbucks employees hold “Sip In” at Eastview Mall

VICTOR, N.Y. (WHEC) — Over two dozen food service workers and other union supporters held a “Sip In” at the Starbucks kiosk inside the Eastview Mall in Victor Monday. Last week, several employees of the popular coffee shop filed paperwork to be recognized as a union.

News10NBC talked to an organizer and supporters about standing in solidarity with other cafe workers.

Many of these Starbucks employees want to form a union in an effort to get better working conditions, and more representation when it comes to talks involving hourly employees.

“I know what it’s like to feel alienated by a boss. I’ve had many food service jobs in the past. The current one I have actually was the result of a union organizing campaign that the boss actually left the bakery, and the workers took it over, and formed a worker-owned cooperative,” said local Cafe Worker Ray Ray Mitrano.

News10NBC’s cameras were not allowed inside the mall to film any of the “Sip In,” but those in attendance sent in some video, and pictures of union supporters next to the Starbucks kiosk. Mitrano does not represent Starbucks Workers United, but says “Sip Ins” are gaining in popularity.

“Sort of like a sit-in where you come and you give support, solidarity for them organizing for better working conditions in Starbucks. They want a union, and they want to be able to organize that union without Starbucks union-busting them up, and doing things like shutting down the store and pretending to renovate,” said Mitrano.

“Sip Ins” were held across the nation on this Labor Day Holiday. Vincent Lima with Roc Democratic Socialist of America helped organize the event at the mall.

“There are some things that they could do better here locally, but overall I think workers should have a chance to negotiate their terms, and conditions, and wages. Whether they work for a well-known, well-respected brand, or not,” said Lima.

To help get their message across for union support, customers instead of using their first name ordered their food, and drinks using terms such as “Union Busting Disgusting”, or “Union Strong.”

“And then they have to shout that out so the people who have their coffee ready, or their food can hear it,” said Mitrano. He finished by saying, “So every time they shout that out people who are inside, they cheer and support for Starbucks United.”

News10NBC tried to get a comment from Starbucks Corporate Offices by both email, and over the phone regarding the nationally held “Sip Ins,” but due to the Labor Day Holiday their offices were closed Monday.