A former Vancouver Starbucks employee who helped unionize the location where she worked says she was then fired from the company.
A few months after Frederique Martineau helped the store in the Dunbar neighbourhood get certified with United Steelworkers, the store closed down, although Starbucks asserts the closure was merely a result of the lease not being renewed and not because the location was unionized.
Martineau said the staff were moved to the nearby location at Mcdonald and 16th Avenue in Kitsilano but said her pay was kept but said she was demoted from her role as a shift supervisor and her hours were cut.
“I was not given any sort of shift supervisor responsibility,” she told Global News.
“I was essentially working as a barista and they would call in other supervisors from other stores to work as a supervisor to make me work as a barista. That went on until Nov. 6. I think Nov. 6, I was told I was being investigated. Nov. 8, I was fired as I started my shift.”
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In a statement, Starbucks Canada said: “No Starbucks partner has been or will be disciplined or separated for supporting, organizing, or otherwise engaging in lawful union activity, and Starbucks respects the right of our partners to make their voices heard when it comes to union issues.
“However, a partner’s involvement in union activity does not exempt them from the obligation to adhere to company policies or permit them to engage in conduct that violates the standards which apply to all partners.”
The company said the Dunbar location was approaching the end of the lease and it considered a number of factors for renewal.
“Following a thorough assessment process, we decided not to renew the lease on this store,” Starbucks said in the statement.
“All Starbucks partners working at that store had the opportunity to transfer to one of our nearby locations.”
For her part, Martineau said she didn’t violate any company policies and has worked with the company for five years without complaints.
However, she said she was the only employee at her former store who was fired and she said she believes it’s because she kept secret that other staff members voted to unionize.
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“Starbucks doesn’t know who voted yes, they also don’t know who helped me. They don’t know anything,” Martineau said.
“So if they were to retaliate against the other employees I used to work with would just kind of be like blind retaliation. You don’t know who did what.”
Martineau said she is working with United Steel Workers to fight what she considers to be wrongful termination.
A statement from the Union said: “The USW stands in solidarity with Frédérique and all Starbucks workers who seek to exercise their right to organize and collectively bargain.”
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