MEMPHIS, Tenn. — There were two groups that arrived at the Starbucks on Poplar near Highland on Tuesday morning when the store opened Tuesday.
The first group walked in the store to work, and the second went to the sidewalk to protest. One week ago, seven employees were fired from the Starbucks on Poplar near Highland. This termination comes after the employees tried to unionize the store.
The company says they were all fired for violating policy by having unauthorized media interviews inside of the store. However, Nabretta Hardin disagrees.
“They fired us to shut us down because we’ve gotten too loud for them,” Hardin said. “We’re not saying that we didn’t do those things. We’re saying it’s unjust to fire us over these things when everybody does them in every store across the country.”
Since the termination, the group known on social media as the “Memphis 7” has gained nationwide attention.
“We’ve definitely been receiving a lot of support, a lot of local unions, other union organization support,” Hardin said. “We’ve also had support from other unionized stores around the country.”
Starbucks employees across the country are taking part in a nationwide protest not only to further push unionization efforts, but to also stand in solidarity with the fired employees.
One of those protests was scheduled to take place outside of the Starbucks Seattle headquarters.
She also said they have filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board and are working with a lawyer to get their jobs back.
“Starbucks is kind of listening but not really, but it’s definitely bringing a lot of attention,” Hardin said. “So, they really have no choice but to speak out about what they’re doing.”
WREG reached out to Starbucks for comments. A spokeswoman said they had no further comment on the termination of the seven employees, but they respect their partners’ right to share their opinions and have their voices heard.