SC Starbucks manager alleges kidnapping during union confrontation, TikTok video shows otherwise

·2 min read
@SGworkersunited via TikTok

An effort to form a union at an Anderson, South Carolina, Starbucks boiled over when a manager called law enforcement alleging kidnapping and assault and the company closed the store.

A TikTok video shows the Aug. 1 encounter at the Clemson Boulevard exit along Interstate 85, beginning with the manager, who was not identified, on the phone sitting at a table with a dozen or so employees standing nearby. The manager then gets up, walks past them and to the front of the store, nudging one employee as they pass.

Someone says, “Why are you pushing him?”

The manager is apparently on the phone with law enforcement.

A spokesman for the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office could not be reached for comment on whether charges were actually filed.

Ian Hayes, a lawyer representing the Starbucks union, said at a press conference Monday the union has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relation Board charging Starbucks with illegally retaliating against workers while they engaged in permitted union activity.

He said workers were suspended, banned from other stores and reported to the police.

he said the company’s actions were “another dimension of union busting campaign.”

Anderson store worker Charlie Thrasher said at the news conference workers are asking how they are going to pay rent, buy groceries.

Anderson store worker Aniel Tripathi said what they did was a “march on the boss.”

“They weren’t going to take us seriously,” Tripathi said. “Now they are.”

The video of the confrontation posted by @sbworkersunited has garnered more than 16,000 comments and nearly 7,000 reposts.

The employees had presented a list of demands before the manager walked out. They are asking for higher wages — they make $12 a hour — and for the company to fix broken equipment. They also say hours have been cut.

A twitter post from the union called the kidnapping and assault allegations “false and absurd.”

The workers staged strikes in June and July.

Starbucks employees all over the country have stepped up efforts to unionize the stores. So far, 183 stores have voted to unionize and 35 have failed, according to the website unionelections.org.

At the same time, the company is closing stores as interim CEO Howard Schultz has said the company needs to reinvent itself. Schultz served two previous terms as CEO, and defeated an effort in the 1980s to unionize the company.