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Unionized Boston Starbucks Workers Celebrate Win After 64-Day Strike

Management conceded to workers’ main demand after they picketed 24 hours a day for two months, workers say.

Starbucks workers and community members sit in a tent outside of Starbucks, where they demonstrated in front of the store 24/7 for two months.

Boston Starbucks workers have ended their two-month strike after management yielded to their main demand, bringing an end to the longest Starbucks strike in history.

The workers at a unionized Starbucks near Boston University have been on strike since mid-July, largely protesting what they say was an unlawful unilateral change to employee policy from the company to force part-time workers to have the equivalent of full-time availability, even if they are only scheduled for 20 hours a week or less. Workers said that, if the part-timers didn’t have such availability, they could risk termination.

On Sunday, management agreed to end the enforcement of the policy after the workers held a consistent strike for 64 days, the union says.

“We are excited that our partners whose availability only permits a part-time schedule will no longer be at risk of losing their jobs because of this arbitrary rule,” the workers wrote in a statement. “We are also proud of our partners in Watertown, MA who joined us in taking action against this rule during their most recent strike action — this victory was won by all of us.”

Along with the end of the minimum availability requirement, workers say they also won a number of other victories, largely related to problems with their store manager, Tomi Chorlian. Chorlian “aggressively” cut employees’ hours, they say, leaving the store “dramatically” understaffed. She had also used “harmful and offensive rhetoric” regarding race, gender and sexual orientation against workers and customers, according to the workers’ statement.

The district manager overseeing the store is now looking to replace Chorlian and will be investigating her behavior with the participation of the workers.

The staunchly anti-union company claims that, despite the end of the strike, nothing has changed policy-wise for the workers.

Workers thanked the community for helping them keep the picket line staffed for 24 hours a day during the strike.

“Keeping our picket line alive 24-hours a day for 64 days took a village of community supporters, union siblings, friends, and Starbucks workers,” they wrote. “We are incredibly inspired by this display of solidarity, and we look forward to supporting y’all in the larger fight for worker power.”

The strike had garnered support from a wide swath of prominent politicians, including people like Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who visited the picket line last month in a trip to rally with labor leaders in Boston.

Sanders congratulated the workers on Twitter on Wednesday. “Let me congratulate the Starbucks workers in Boston who won their 64-day strike for fair schedules and decent working conditions,” he wrote. “When workers stand together and fight for justice, there is nothing they cannot accomplish. I was proud to have stood on the picket line with them.”

Police had shown up to the picket line multiple times, with the seeming purpose of breaking up the strike. Picketers were threatened with arrest last week and police came once in August to remove furniture from the patio that workers were picketing on, watching them to ensure they didn’t return to the area.

“If this isn’t blatant union busting, what is?” the union wrote of the August incident.

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