New York

Two Starbucks Union Organizers Arrested at Protest


36th AND MADISON, STARBUCKS, 3 P.M.–Police far outnumbered protesters here as a small march in support of the first-ever Starbucks Union ended in the arrests of two union organizers. Bystanders identified the two as Daniel Gross, 25, and Anthony Polanco, both workers at the store.

According to participants, the march proceeded peacefully from this coffee shop to Starbucks regional HQ at 33rd and 5th Avenue and back. Once at the starting place the marchers assembled in the street and on the sidewalks for a last chant, whereupon they were given an order to disperse. Gross and Polanco were surrounded by several officers each and placed into a waiting bus. “It’s no coincidence that they arrested the two union organizers,” said Michael, a witness and friend of Gross.

After the arrests there was a short standoff with police as marchers taunted them with “Where’s your union solidarity?” and “No new contract!” a reference to the police union’s current contract disputes. Deputy Chief of Police Terence Moynihan then gave an order to disperse through a megaphone and the crowd obeyed. The workers at this Starbucks formed the first-ever union at a franchise of the coffee chain in May of this year, becoming members of the International Workers of the World IU/660, but Starbucks is fighting against their official recognition.

The heavy police presence was notable at the event, with police on bicycles and motorbikes. There was a phalanx in front of the store, several large transport vehicles a few blocks away, and what appeared to be more than one deputy chief on the scene.

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