NFL Players Union President Calls Starbucks Labor Movement ‘Critical’ at Avondale Rally

Starbucks workers pose for a photo during a rally with the AFL-CIO and NFL Players Association on Feb. 11 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Jessica Swarner)

By Jessica Swarner

February 22, 2023

Starbucks fired Milyanna Romero from a unionized store in what she believes was retaliation for her participation in organizing.  

Members of the NFL Players Association and the AFL-CIO joined Starbucks workers on Feb. 11 to show worker solidarity before the Super Bowl in Glendale.

The labor advocates rallied outside the unionized Starbucks at 107th Avenue and Indian School Road in Avondale. 

The location voted to unionize in May, but has struggled  to get the company to negotiate a contract with them. The store participated in the Red Cup Rebellion strike in November in an attempt to pressure Starbucks to come to the bargaining table. 

RELATED: Litchfield Park Starbucks Files Petition to Unionize 

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler spoke to the rally crowd, asking them to remember the Jan. 2 NFL game between the Buffalo Bill and Cincinnati Bengals when Damar Hamlin experienced cardiac arrest on the field after a hit. 

She said watching players and coaches decide not to finish the game was “one of the most powerful moments of solidarity” she had seen. 

“That was workers standing up for each other,” Shuler said. “That was workers saying, ‘I can’t work like this. I am not going to work like this.’ And I tell you, the solidarity we saw that night, it is the same thing that we’re seeing at Starbucks and at workplaces all over this country right now.” 

NFLPA President JC Tretter, a former NFL center, called the Starbucks labor movement “critical.” 

“Every worker deserves a say,” Tretter told The Copper Courier. “Every worker deserves a seat at the table. We’re all fighting for the same thing: better wages, benefits, and working conditions.” 

According to Starbucks Workers United, the National Labor Relations Board has issued 60 complaints against Starbucks that included over 1,200 labor law violations. 

The union said the company has fired 200 union leaders across the US, and seven in Arizona. 

Milyanna Romero was fired from the Avondale store shortly after it unionized. She said she believes it was retaliation for her participation in organizing.

“I think that the management was scared of me, and so they found little reasons to fire me,” Romero told The Copper Courier. 

She said she will testify in court in April about her firing. 

“I know where I belong,” she said, “and I’m not there.” 

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  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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