Minneapolis Starbucks workers on strike for the second day

Starbucks workers picketed a south Minneapolis location on Monday, carrying signs that read “Fair wages for fair work” and using a megaphone to shout, “We are the workers, the powerful, the powerful workers.” .

Many drivers honked their horns as they passed the closed store at 4712 Cedar Av., prompting cries of “we love you” from the picketers.

“It’s really amazing to have people supporting us,” said shift manager Emily Mahoney. “It means so much.”

About 15 workers picketed the site on Sunday and Monday. They want Starbucks to come to the bargaining table to negotiate better wages and improved hours.

Mahoney said she would also like to see more staff hired after the onsite cuts.

“We know the greatest power of workers is their power to hold back work,” said Esau Chavez, an organizer with the Chicago and Midwest Joint Board of Workers United. “It really shows that workers are ready to stand up and fight. This is not an empty threat.”

Starbucks said, “We respect our partners’ right to engage in any legally protected activity or protest without retaliation.”

The company also said, “In stores where workers have union representation, federal law requires good faith collective bargaining on wages, benefits, and working conditions, which prohibits Starbucks from making or to announce unilateral changes.”

A Starbucks spokeswoman said there was no set timetable for collective bargaining.

Workers at the Cedar Avenue location said they would return to work on Tuesday.

Workers United, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, said in April that a Starbucks on Snelling Avenue near Stanford Avenue in St. Paul was the first in Minnesota to unionize. There are now four unionized stores in the Twin Cities. The Cedar Avenue site in Minneapolis unionized in May.

Mahoney, who makes $20 an hour and has health insurance from Starbucks, said she feels lucky to have a fiancé to cover the rent.

“I see my co-workers struggling to pay their rent and run errands,” she said.

While the 26-year-old enjoys her job, especially seeing regulars at the store where she has worked for two years, she has tried unsuccessfully to find a better paying job.

Mahoney feels like she’s drowning in her $20,000 in student loans for her music business degree.

“In my defense, I was 18 when I chose this degree,” she said.

Mahoney said she knows many young adults struggling with even bigger debts.

“Most of us have college degrees,” she said. “That’s where we’re done.”

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