Mid-South Starbucks workers allege management won’t fix mold in broken ice machine

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Starbucks workers in the Mid-South are taking matters into their hands when it comes to ongoing issues with the company.

Workers at the store at Poplar and Highland joined in a nationwide strike over the weekend to protest unfair labor practices.

The strike is part of the Red Cup Rebellion, a nationwide unfair labor practice (ULP) strike demanding Starbucks fully staff all union stores and begin bargaining in good faith.

MORE: Mid-South Starbucks workers join in nationwide strike against unfair labor practices

On Monday, workers released a new statement, saying they are taking collective action in response to management’s refusal to get an ice machine professionally cleaned despite the presence of black mold.

The release went on to say management refuses to get the ice machine fixed as it leaks into the back of the store.

A Twitter post said the store manager insists workers serve customers iced drinks after finding large amounts of black mold in the ice machine.

The post includes a video of a water-soaked floor.

Later, a Starbucks employee told FOX13 that workers had bought ice and are not using the machine.

“It is absolutely disgusting that we are being forced to work in these conditions. No customers or employees should ever have to worry about mold being around their drinks. We are extremely disappointed in the lack of communication about the situation and the lack of accountability or initiative in fixing the problem,” said Reaghan Hall, a worker at the Poplar & Highland store. “We were promised the situation was resolved only to walk into a store that is now flooding and mold still visible on the ice machine”

Union workers are asking management to fix the issues and begin bargaining in good faith.

“Starbucks installed our ice machine where it is inaccessible to perform the proper maintenance without endangering the safety of our partners,” said Beto Sanchez, a worker at the Poplar & Highland store. “As a consequence, simply trying to perform the necessary maintenance causes a severe leak throughout multiple parts of the store, leading partners to be working in standing dirty contaminated water. A Starbucks ice machine vendor even said that it should have never been installed there”

Starbucks Workers United represents over 260 locations, accounting for nearly 7,000 workers in the country.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued 40 official complaints against Starbucks, encompassing over 900 alleged violations of federal labor law, the release said.