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After August's pro-union events in Eugene, Starbucks fires two employees

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Brian Bull
/
KLCC
A recent labor rally drew Starbucks employees to the South Eugene store, which was the first in Oregon to form a union this year.

Two Starbucks workers who helped unionize their stores in Eugene have been fired.

Jake LaMourie was with the Starbucks store on Willamette and 29th, the first in Oregon to approve forming a union. Reportedly fired for attendance issues, the six-year worker said he’s long felt in the sights of the Starbucks Corporation, and says anti-union management has sought to fire anyone for the slightest infraction.

“The typical playbook for a company that’s trying to stop a burgeoning union like this,” said LaMourie. “I mean, back in January when we filed, I remember saying to people, ‘I’m probably going to get fired for this at some point.’

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Brian Bull
/
KLCC
Jake LaMourie, after he and his co-workers voted to unionize in April.

“And they proved me right.”

LaMourie contested that his attendance record was at fault, and added that a federal judge recently ordered Starbucks to rehire seven workers in Memphis, who were fired after unionizing. He said he doesn’t expect to be unemployed for long.

“I might even be able to get rehired by appealing through Starbucks’ internal systems,” said LaMourie. “But our union has great lawyers, I’ve already been in contact with them, we’ll be going through the NLRB* as well. But yeah, I fully expect to get my job back. I don’t think it’ll be an easy process, but ultimately they’re not going to keep me out of there.”

Another Starbucks employee, James Anthony, was reportedly fired for locking up the West 11th Avenue store’s lobby without informing management after his co-workers walked out.

In a release, Starbucks Workers United shared Anthony’s remarks:

“To all the store managers and district managers and regional managers out there, you should be just as angry as we are. The company has no love for you, and they will continue to use you against us. You have a choice, no one is making you do what you do. If you care about your ‘partners’ you’d be fighting for and with us. At the very least, get out of our way.”

In an emailed statement, a Starbucks spokesperson told KLCC that the Eugene workers were let go due to store policy violations. They add they’ll continue enforcing policies consistently for all workers (or “partners” as they’re referred to by the company.)

"We have been clear from the beginning that we respect our partners’ right to engage in any legally protected activity or protest without retaliation," the Starbucks spokesperson wrote.

Seven out of eight Starbucks stores in Eugene have unionized this year. The Oakway location remains the lone holdout.

As to whether people should visit or boycott Starbucks stores in the midst of the turmoil, LaMourie said supporters should make a point to buy from those that have unionized.

*National Labor Relations Board.

Copyright @2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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