Starbucks workers end historic 64-day strike on Commonwealth Avenue

Employees at the Brookline store had been on strike 24/7 since mid-July, making this the longest documented action against the global coffee chain.

Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff
After 64 days on the picket line, workers at a Starbucks on Commonwealth Avenue have declared victory.

After 64 days on the picket line, workers at a Brookline Starbucks who went on strike over allegations of unfair labor practices and a hostile work environment declared victory Wednesday.

Employees at the 874 Commonwealth Ave. store — located near Boston University — have been on strike 24/7 since mid-July, making this the longest documented action against the global coffee chain.

“We’re all really energized, but we’re also kind of just breathing a breath of fresh air, because it is really grueling work, and there’s a lot that has gone into keeping this up for so long,” said Taylor Dickerson, who has been working for Starbucks since February. “It’s also a relief, and we can kind of just rest now, at least for a little bit.”


The strike was part of a nationwide wave of union activity tied to Starbucks and drew attention from politicians including Mayor Michelle Wu, state Rep. Tommy Vitolo, and Boston City Councilors Ruthzee Louijeune, Ed Flynn, and Kenzie Bok.

“I had no idea how big this would become,” Dickerson said in an interview with “And we just were kind of baffled by the response, really. It’s hard to even put into words.”

“Being a part of this strike since day one has been one of the most inspiring things that I have been a part of,” Adam Ryan, a barista at the Starbucks, said in a statement provided to 

“Seeing my community give support through not only their money but also the amount of hours that they have worked is something that I can never forget and something that I will always be grateful for,” Ryan added.

Why they went on strike

The workers, who voted to unionize in June, alleged in a letter posted on Twitter by Boston Starbucks Workers United that a store manager made illegal threats of discipline or termination if employees did not comply with a newly imposed availability policy.


Staff at a Watertown Starbucks similarly went on a week-long strike over the minimum availability policy, according to a BSWU tweet

Baristas at the Brookline location claimed in their letter that Starbucks had conceded that the minimum availability requirement could not be unilaterally implemented at unionized stores. However, Starbucks’ corporate office said in a statement that the workers’ return was unconditional.

“The partners at this location are returning to work under the same conditions at the time that they went on strike,” Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Borges wrote in an email to “No negotiations were conducted with these partners for their return.”

He added in a phone call that the minimum availability policy did not apply to the workers, as their work to unionize predated the rule.

“They are right in one sense; there was no formal process — they made absolutely sure that that would not happen,” Dickerson said. “They’ve been really averse to negotiating and coming to the table, whether it’s over something like this with the strike or with the national contract, or anything, really.”

Part of the problem is that Starbucks doesn’t want to acknowledge the workers’ victory, she asserted. 


“It is a huge loss for them,” Dickerson said. “Of course, acknowledging our win is going to show how much power unions have, and that if other people want to unionize and go on strike, they can.”

Greater Boston Starbucks Workers United
Starbucks employees from 874 Commonwealth Ave. make pro-union signs.

In their letter, the workers also alleged that their manager perpetuated “harmful and offensive rhetoric with respect to the race, gender, and orientation” of staff and customers, and that she had cut hours, understaffed shifts, and made schedule changes without notice. 

They claimed their district manager said he is actively seeking the store manager’s replacement. Borges confirmed the store manager is still in place. 

“We look forward to serving our customers at (847 Commonwealth) … again and appreciate these partners’ unconditional return to work,” he wrote. “We look to moving forward with scheduling collective bargaining sessions with Workers United representative(s) at this location.”

Politicians weigh in

Sen. Ed Markey was among those who weighed in on the strike’s end, tweeting: “A huge victory for the @SBWorkersUnited workers at Commonwealth Ave! This is the power of the picket line and the power of the people.”

Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders also offered congratulations.

“When workers stand together and fight for justice, there is nothing they cannot accomplish. I was proud to have stood on the picket line with them,” Sanders tweeted

The strike now finished, Dickerson said she’s looking forward to resting — and getting back to making drinks alongside her coworkers. 


“That’s a great part, just to know all of this work we did is finally paying off and we can kind of just enjoy it, at least for a moment,” she said.


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