Starbucks union organizer in North Carolina fired days before vote

Raleigh, North Carolina - A Starbucks employee and organizer at a location in Raleigh was fired Saturday, days before the store is scheduled to vote to unionize.

Starbucks stores and employees around the US have been actively unionizing,but the company has been vigerously fighting back.
Starbucks stores and employees around the US have been actively unionizing,but the company has been vigerously fighting back.  © REUTERS

Sharon Gilman, an employee at the Wake Forest and Six Forks location since May 2020, was accused by the company of intentionally breaking a sink in the store's backroom.

"On February 13, 2022, a day before my store went public about unionizing, I was in the back-of-house doing dishes when the spray head above the sink broke off and fell on me," Gilman explains on a GoFundMe page created to help her handle bills and expenses.

Gilman said she met with district manager Ed Harvey and store manager Daniel Butler on March 26. She was asked to file a statement on the incident and any events that may have led up to it.

"Ed asked me if I had been experiencing any frustration or if something had happened that night that made me angry enough to use excessive force when doing the dishes," Gilman recounted. "Ed explained that the repairmen told him that the sink breaking like that could not have been accidental."

On Saturday, almost two months after the sink broke, she was fired. Gilman believes she was "wrongfully terminated" because of her activity in the union, and is being used as an example to intimidate coworkers from voting yes for unionization, which is scheduled for this week.

"I was in disbelief. I don’t work out. I’m not a freaking macho man," she explained. "As a 20-year-old female, I didn't know that I had the strength to pull to break a metal sink clear off the wall."

Starbucks Workers United will hold a rally outside the store on Monday for the reinstatement of Gilman, and will file a charge with the National Labor Relations Board.

Cover photo: REUTERS

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