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Newly-unionized Starbucks in West Hartford demands fair wages for union workers

Their demands come with a call to action to Starbucks: to sit down and have a talk with employees.

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — A small group with big voices gathered outside of Corbin's Corner Starbucks in West Hartford on Tuesday morning to share their demands for change within the company. They were focused on fair wages and compensation for unionized Starbucks workers. 

Among those advocating for change was Travis Glenney, who said he has worked within the Starbucks company for over a decade. 

"We want a living wage; we want to be treated fairly is pretty much what it comes down to; I don't think it's too much to ask," Glenney said passionately.  

Starbucks employees, AFL-CIO representatives, and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) all said it's not a far-fetch request. This is precisely why they're standing in solidarity after workers alleged the company withheld wages and more from unionized workers. 

"It makes me sad and angry that folks are working under this kind of threat of denial of fair compensation just because they want to join the union; that's wrong," explained Blumenthal.

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This comes just one month after the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint citing these failures as a violation. 

"They willfully withheld benefits that they should be getting which have been declared illegal by the National Labor Relations Board," explained Ed Hawthrone, President of AFL-CIO. "So we're here to show our support, here to say that the Connecticut labor movement is behind them, the people that come to Starbucks are behind them as well."

The Corbin's Corner and Vernon Starbucks locations are the first to unionize in Connecticut.

"We're out here unionizing our stores not because we hate our stores, but because we love our jobs," explained six-year Starbucks employee Salwa Mogaddedi. "We want to do better for ourselves; we want to do better for all stores and all employees."

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However, the complaint isn't just in the Nutmeg state. It's a part of a nationwide surge of more than 200 locations that unionized to establish fair compensation and improved working conditions.

"We're just workers here trying to do what's fair for us, and we're not asking for anything special; we're not asking for special treatment; we're asking for what is being given to all the other workers," Glenney emphasized. 

Their demands come with a call to action to Starbucks: to sit down and have a talk with employees. 

"Because that's what bargaining is, that's all they really want is to discuss their working conditions, discuss their rages, discuss how they spend a lot of their lives and just listen to each other and come to an agreement that's mutually beneficial which would be a first union contract," said Hawthrone. 

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Starbucks store in West Hartford votes to unionize

"Here is a test case for the future," said Blumenthal. "Starbucks is trying to stop and break the union by denying them the compensation that is provided to nonunion workers. That should be illegal; if it isn't, we need stronger laws."

FOX61 reached out to Starbucks for comment, and they shared this statement: 

"We are listening and learning from the partners in these stores as we always do across the country. From the beginning, we've been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed. We respect our partner's right to organize and are committed to following the NLRB process."

Raquel Harrington is the race and culture reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at rharrington@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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