An Anderson Starbucks is temporarily closed and employees held a protest Monday at the location on I-85 and Clemson Boulevard in response to being placed on an indefinite paid time off and being banned from visiting other franchise sites.
Their protest comes during an ongoing investigation by Anderson County Sheriff's Office in which the store's manager alleged she was not allowed to leave the store and was assaulted by an employee.
On Aug. 1, Clemson Boulevard Starbucks employees surrounded a store manager, and presented a list of demands, including pay, equipment and staffing, according to Mya Ourada, a store barista.
"We're basically being kept in the dark about any information," Ourada said. "A couple of us are minors. A lot of us here have to get a second job to afford basic necessities."
@sbworkersunited When workers stand up together, workers win. @Starbucks must end their union busting tactics now. #management #unionbusting #uniontok #marchontheboss #southcarolina ♬ original sound - SBWorkersUnited
According to an Anderson County Sheriff's Office incident report, charges of simple assault and kidnapping were filed by the store manager, Melissa Morris the same day employees held the in-store protest and documented the interaction on TikTok.
The video has received over 8 million views since publishing on the Starbucks Workers United TikTok page on Aug. 3.
According to Starbucks Media Relations, this was the store manager's first day working at the I-85 & Clemson Boulevard site.
"When a partner claims a threat to their safety or wellbeing at Starbucks it is our policy to investigate the incident and, if we deem inappropriate, suspend (with pay) those who were accused of threatening behavior," Starbucks Media Relations said in a public statement.
"I am angered that Starbucks made these moves," said Aneil Tripathi, shift manager at Starbucks, and head organizer of the Clemson Boulevard protests. "They clearly have no intent to follow the law."
This specific location was the first in the South to unanimously vote, 18-0, to unionize, according to the Starbucks Workers United Twitter account.
According to Tripathi, the Clemson Boulevard staff was notified Friday that their store location would be closed due to "staffing issues" and would open again this week. .
On Saturday, the staff was notified of their PTO status, Tripathi said.
On Monday afternoon, protesters gathered intending to negotiate a contract that provides higher pay and updated work equipment along with increased benefits for workers.
"We fully respect our partners' rights to organize but no one, regardless of their union, is exempt from the standards we have always held that everyone in our stores can expect to be treated with dignity and respect and work in a warm, welcoming, inclusive work environment," Starbucks media relations staff said in a statement.
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A.J. Jackson is a general assignment reporter for the Independent Mail. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org with story ideas and leads, also follow him on Twitter @AJhappened
This article originally appeared on Anderson Independent Mail: Starbucks Anderson, South Carolina location hold protest