This story has been updated
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Starbucks Workers United, the organizing group behind the effort to unionize employees at six local stores, says a key person in their work has been fired – though Starbucks disputes that characterization of her departure, saying the employee had submitted her resignation.
The group claimed on Twitter that a whistleblower named Brittany had been fired “for exposing Starbucks’ anti-union campaign to partners in Buffalo.” They asked for donations to support Brittany, who they said is battling leukemia.
Brittany, whose last name was not listed, is a 28-year-old manager of a Starbucks cafe in Arizona. The organizing group says she “has evidence of Starbucks’ union busting activities.”
Starbucks Workers United has created a GoFundMe campaign for Brittany, in an effort to raise $10,000. More than $8,000 has been raised.
“[Brittany] reached out to the workers in Buffalo when she learned the company was sending managers and executives from around the country to Buffalo with the explicit purpose of defeating the union effort,” the GoFundMe’s description reads. “Brittany stepped forward as a whistleblower to give testimony to the National Labor Relations Board to support the union’s charges of unfair labor practices at Starbucks because she did not want herself or her co-workers to be put in a position of violating Buffalo Starbucks partners’ right to organize.”
They say that Brittany had been planning to leave the company by the end of the month, but received a call from Starbucks on Monday, letting her know she was fired.
Starbucks told News 4 that they did not fire Brittany.
But Brittany disagreed with Starbucks when she spoke with a News 4 reporter Wednesday evening.
She said she submitted her resignation effective for Nov. 28 and she was told by a Starbucks official on Monday that “my employment has been terminated effective 11/14 since there was an open investigation against me and it’s company policy to immediately terminate employment when someone resigns while part of an open investigation. “
Brittany also shared text messages with News 4 that show a Starbucks official telling her that they will process her date for this past Sunday, and that her vacation will not get paid out. The same Starbucks officials texted her back and said she was mistaken and that her last day of employment would be processed for Nov. 28, “and you were just supposed to be taken off of the schedule and paid it out.”
If the six Buffalo area locations attempting to unionize are successful, they’ll be the first in the country to do so. They are the following stores:
- Sheridan Drive & Bailey Avenue, Amherst
- Walden Avenue & Anderson Road, Cheektowaga
- Transit & French roads, Depew
- Elmwood Village, Buffalo
- Genesee Street by the airport, Cheektowaga by the airport
- Camp Road, Hamburg