Starbucks Fires Employee Who Started Company's 'Workers United' Union

Alexis Rizzo, who started the Starbucks Workers United union campaign, was terminated by Starbucks just a few days after the company’s former CEO, Howard Schultz, testified on Capitol Hill about the coffee chain’s alleged union-busting.


Rizzo, who worked as a shift supervisor at Starbucks for seven years, also served as a union leader at the Genesee St. store in Buffalo, New York, one of the first two stores in the country to succeed in its union campaign.

In a GoFundMe page for Rizzo, which has already raised over $10,000, the Starbucks Workers United described it as “retaliation at its worse”:

Lexi Rizzo was a 7-year shift supervisor at Starbucks who ignited the Starbucks Workers United movement that took the country by storm. Lexi was a leader at the Genesee St. store in Buffalo, one of the first two stores in the country to win their union campaign. Two days after former CEO Howard Schultz testified in front of congress on his illegal union-busting campaign, upper management came in to fire Lexi. This is retaliation at its worst. Please help support Lexi pay her bills as we fight for Justice and her job back.

In an interview with CNBC, Rizzo said she was “absolutely heartbroken.”

“It wasn’t just a job for me. It was like my family,” Rizzo said. “It was like losing everything. I’ve been there since I was 17 years old. It’s like my entire support system, and I think that they knew that.”

After finishing her shift on a Friday, Rizzo claimed she was fired by store managers, who cited her lateness on four separate occasions, including two instances where she was only a minute late.


However, Starbucks insisted Rizzo had missed more than four hours of work during those occasions and had received multiple write-ups for tardiness. In a statement to CNCB, spokesperson Rachel Wall said the company only terminates employees for clear policy violations, explaining that Rizzo had repeatedly violated attendance policies, a behavior that had negatively impacted other baristas working at the store.

“We appreciate that our Genesee St. partners provided the Starbucks Experience to each other and our customers this morning, and that area stores continue to serve customers without interruption this weekend,” she said.

The firing comes after Howard Schultz appeared before Congress to give testimony about his alleged union busting, where he was accused by socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VM) of running one of the “most aggressive and illegal union-busting campaigns in the modern history of our country.” Schultz denied the allegations and maintained that he never broke any federal labor laws.

Rizzo said she is still “in shock” about her dismissal and believes it was retaliation for the hard time given to Schultz over on Capitol Hill.


“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that two days after Howard Schultz had his ego bruised the way that he did that he started lashing out at Buffalo,” Rizzo said. “We’re going to keep fighting to make things right. I’m going to fight for my job back and to get reinstated.”

Starbucks Workers United, meanwhile, carries on its fight for “greater justice, greater equality, and a greater vision of what life can be for Starbucks workers across the United States and for workers in the coffee and restaurant industry.”

“We believe that there can be no true partnership without power-sharing and accountability,” their mission statement reads. “For this reason, and through discussing our shared experience working at Starbucks, we have come to the conclusion that organizing a union is the best way to truly contribute meaningfully to this partnership and both ensure that our voices are heard and ensure that when we are heard we have equal power to affect change and get things done.”


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