MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — A dispute that was brewing between some Memphis Starbucks workers and management led to a strike on Sunday.
The workers at the Starbucks on Poplar near Prescott say they found mold in the ice machine and say their management refused to professionally fix the problem.
They tell us this isn’t the first time workers have engaged in a “David versus Goliath” type battle with the national coffee chain.
At the Starbucks on Poplar near Prescott, about a dozen Memphis Starbucks workers take to the streets chanting and holding signs that read “Got mold? We Do!”
“What this is for is mostly the accountability of us having issues with our management. They’re insisting that we keep serving moldy ice to our customers. There’s been a lot of black mold in our ice machine because of the poor insulation from Starbucks. They insist on serving it and we refuse,” Beto Sanchez said, a striking Starbucks employee.
The employees are on strike after they say they found mold in an ice machine at the coffee shop.
“So, we found out recently there is black mold all around our ice machine. We asked the store manager to have a professional to come in and clean it because none of the baristas were comfortable with cleaning it themselves,” Reaghan Hall said, a striking Starbucks worker.
These employees walked off the job Saturday night after they said management rejected their request to professionally clean the ice machine and repair a leak.
“My manager told me it was clean to everyone’s satisfaction, but I still don’t feel comfortable serving moldy ice to my customers,” LaKota McGlawn said, a striking Starbucks employee.
Workers shared these photos with WREG. They say the pictures show mold and other unhealthy conditions for employees and customers.
“It makes us feel like our health and our safety is not their priority and it also makes us feel like the customers’ health and safety isn’t their priority,” Hall said.
This is the same Starbucks where workers were fired after trying to unionize back in February. Starbucks had to reinstate the seven employees after a U.S. Court of Appeals ruling.
“We have gotten their attention all the way to their headquarters in Seattle. They fired us illegally for unionizing. We got rescinded with the injunction. We are back here on our jobs and now we are able to help protect our city and most importantly our customers,” Sanchez said.
The workers demand Starbucks fix the issues and begin bargaining with the union members in hopes of getting back to the business of serving a cup of joe.
“We sent a strike letter to our management team saying they have until 11:59 tonight to fix the problem then we can go back to work on Monday,” Hall said.
WREG reached out to Starbucks for a comment, but so far, we haven’t heard back.