Baristas picket outside the Starbucks store at 519 Main St., joining workers nationwide to win contracts and improved working conditions. Credit: Desiree Shannon

A day-long strike Wednesday, March 22, brought business to a near-standstill at an Evanston Starbucks store at 519 Main St. in the Main-Chicago business corridor. 

Picketing baristas alleged ongoing unfair labor practices consisting of retaliatory cutbacks of working hours. Local Starbucks managers attempted to maintain operations but declined to comment to a RoundTable reporter.

Connor Brennan, a member of the store’s labor committee, said the coffee shop closed hours earlier than usual.

Brennan noted that strikes had been coordinated across the country at Starbucks stores that had recently unionized. He said employees at the Main Street store had voted to unionize in January. He said striking was an effective strategy towards getting a contract, adding that employees “need bigger actions for us to get there.”  

Striking Starbucks employees also called for a living wage and consistent work schedules with guaranteed hours. Brennan noted there are about 300 unionized Starbucks around the country, 14 of them in Illinois.  He said the Main Street store was one of seven unionized stores in the state participating in Wednesday’s strike, with 120 stores participating nationwide.

Brennan acknowledged that his store’s problems with issues such as scheduling wasn’t as bad as those of other Starbucks stores.  But, he said, “we need to act in solidarity as a union. There are some stores that have it worse than others, but ultimately we are all dealing with the same problems.”  

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