Supporters rally to pressure Great Neck Starbucks to reinstate fired worker

Supporters rally to pressure Great Neck Starbucks to reinstate fired worker
Nearly 100 people rallied outside the Starbucks in Great Neck last week, advocating for the company to rehire an employee. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

Nearly 100 people rallied outside a Great Neck Plaza Starbucks last week, advocating for a fired employee and union leader to be rehired by the company.

Joselyn Chuquillanqui, 28, served as a shift supervisor for the Starbucks at 6 Great Neck Road before she was fired last month as a result of tardiness complaints. Chuquillanqui, of Elmont, said the complaints were excessive and used simply as a way for management to terminate her.

“It’s been great to see all the support I’ve been getting since I was fired,” she said during the Aug. 15 rally. “To see the support from the community and from local union organizations, it’s just been great.”

Chuquillanqui, who was part of the company for nearly seven years before her termination, said she hopes other unions look at her case and see that there is strength in numbers and that individuals’ voices will be heard. Corporate employees, she said, have the right to fair wages and safety while working.

The managers at the same Great Neck Starbucks were accused of engaging in unfair labor practices by workers attempting to unionize, according to a complaint filed earlier this year.

In February, more than a dozen employees at the Starbucks at 6 Great Neck Road signed a letter to Starbucks President and CEO Kevin Johnson informing him of their decision to unionize. The Great Neck location was one of several in the New York City area to call for unionizing and among 72 throughout the country.

“Our goal in unionizing is to make you hear us, and to let us have power in relation to our labor rather than alienation from it,” the letter to Johnson said. “We, as partners, are the ones building the wealth of Starbucks, a company worth billions of dollars, and it is time we get our fair share, a voice at work nd a seat at the table.”

More than a month later a complaint was filed by representatives with the Workers United New York New Jersey Regional Board to the National Labor Relations Board. It claims that managers of the Great Neck store engaged in nine unfair labor practices for nearly a month, starting on or around Feb. 10.

The alleged unfair labor practices included loss of promotion and opportunities to transfer to other stores, disciplinary threats and threats of losing income, according to the complaint. Chuquillanqui said the threats allegedly made by management would have a significant impact on the store’s employees.

Sarah Albanesi, a spokeswoman for Starbucks Corp., denied the employees’ allegations. “Any claims of anti-union busting or activities are completely false,” she said, contending that the company has honored the process the National Labor Relations Board has presented.

Albanesi said once a petition is filed to the Labor Relations Board, local managers make themselves available to answer questions about collective bargaining and how the unionization process will work.

Starbucks Workers United, a group aiding in the unionization of the company’s stores, has filed more than 280 unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB 

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