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First unionized Starbucks in Maine goes on strike over contract negotiations

Employees at the Biddeford Starbucks say their store owners are engaging in union busting and changing store hours outside employee availability.

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Workers at the Starbucks off Alfred Street in Biddeford closed the store and held a strike on Monday. Employees said the store owners are not negotiating in good faith with the union, which was formed in July by a vote of 9 to three.

"I have been retaliated against by management. We've had changes in store hours without bargaining in the union," Ash Macomber, a shift manager at the store, said. 

Macomber is one of three employees who pushed for unionization. It was the first Starbucks in Maine to unionize. A Starbucks in Portland unionized in August.

Macomber said closing the store to strike on Labor Day was to show Starbucks they are serious about forming a first contract.

"We are not anti-Starbucks. We want Starbucks to listen to us so we can be heard. We want to be on the same page so we can all be happier working together transparently," Macomber said.

Neighbors showed their support, like Thomas Jackson, who is from Connecticut but lives in Maine during the summer.

"I would gag on coffee that is not union-made from Starbucks," Jackson said. "I came over today to get a Starbucks coffee that had been union-made, and if I can't get that, then I'm not going to do so no more."

Meanwhile, other employees, like Kaylee Macara, who have worked at the Biddeford Starbucks for just eight months, said marching on the rainy holiday was worth it.

"It shows how passionate we are about what's going on and how much we want this to happen. We're not going to just stand by and let Starbucks do what it's doing. It really seems like profit over people," Macara said.

A spokesperson for Starbucks sent a statement over email to NEWS CENTER Maine and said the chain respects its partners. 

"Partners do not represent Starbucks while engaging in protest activity," the statement said.

The Starbucks representative did not elaborate if that applies to partners that protest working conditions at a Starbucks location.

Macomber said the unions at different Starbucks around the nation hope to send one representative to the bargaining table with Starbucks as their contract requirements contain much of the same requests.

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