Hickey Freeman is growing again, announcing Monday a plan to add 100 jobs to meet demands under newly secured agreements.
The news was a welcome turnaround after a rough stretch that saw the iconic company cut half its workforce over the past two years. Business dropped by more than 75% during the pandemic.
And the company agreed to sell its North Clinton Avenue headquarters.
Plans were to occupy just one-third of their North Clinton facility going forward. Now — coupled with the prospect multi-year federal contracts to manufacture personal protective equipment for the national stockpile — the company is negotiating for a "significant" increase in space, said Stephen Granovsky, CEO of parent company Rochester Tailored Clothing.
"This factory will be as busy as we want it to be," he said. ... See MoreSee Less
“It’s insane,” said Alexis Rizzo, a longtime Starbucks employee who has been a leader of the organizing campaign at the store. “Even if you’re just trying to run to the back to grab a gallon of milk, you now have to run an obstacle course to fit between all the folks who have no real reason to be there.”
Ms. Rizzo said the number of employees in the store at once — which she said had run into the teens — made those who predate the union election filing feel outnumbered and demoralized. “It’s intimidating,” she said. “You go to work and it’s just you and 10 people you don’t know.”
According to the National Labor Relations Board, union elections are supposed to be conducted under “laboratory conditions,” in which workers can vote in an environment free of intimidation, in an election process that is not controlled by the employer.
Former labor board officials say the company’s actions could cause an election to be set aside on these grounds should the union lose.
“You could say it’s part of an overall series of events that seems to create a tendency that people would be chilled or inhibited,” said Wilma B. Liebman, a chairwoman of the board during the Obama administration. ... See MoreSee Less
Some baristas have understandably felt anxious about corporate pushback because the company has successfully created “fear culture” around organizing. This is a familiar feeling for other coffee industry organizers. During a 2018 panel of rank-and-file service industry organizers in 2018, barista Korbin Richards acknowledged that anticipating intimidation from a company that claims to treat workers like family is daunting, but she also noted “fear is where a lot of the long, deep work is to be done,” and that “collective action is a way to dissipate fear.”
Starbucks has more money, more lawyers, and more allies in both big business and national media than any other coffee shop or chain whose workers have attempted a similar campaign. Despite these challenges, Starbucks Workers United has a real shot to win a major victory for itself, other Starbucks partners, coffee industry workers, and the whole labor movement.
The company said that the two temporary store closures in Buffalo have nothing to do with the union drive—one is for a remodel and the other is for training new hires. But shutting down locations and separating and fracturing workforces in the middle of a union drive is a standard practice used by anti-unions employers to stamp out union drives.
Starbucks is working with Littler Mendelson, the largest anti-union law firm in the country, on the union drive, and has flown in executives from around the country, including Rossann Williams, the president of Starbucks North America, to hold a series of weekly anti-union meetings at each of its stores in the Buffalo region.