Chelsea Starbucks employees strike, allege mattress bugs and mould

Chelsea Starbucks workers strike, allege bed bugs and mold

Workers at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Chelsea protested Tuesday for the second day in a row after claiming the site had unsanitary working conditions.

The union representing the workers, Workers United, claims the company has failed to respond to pressing health and safety issues at the site, including a moldy ice machine and bed bugs.

“Starbucks Roastery workers have been on strike over health and safety issues that we have been addressing since we won our union vote in April,” Laura Garza, a 22-year-old Starbucks employee, said in a statement Wednesday. “These include a moldy ice machine which we are not equipped to clean up and which is still in use, and the more recent situation that bed bugs were found in the roastery as of last Sunday. Proper protocols and communication with partners regarding bed bugs have been scarce and we are groping in the dark. At all times we have not heard from Starbucks about the contract negotiations.”

A Starbucks spokesman said the company arranged for a pest control service to inspect and treat the property on Monday. The inspectors found no infestation or insect activity, according to the spokesman.

The spokesman added that the store’s ice machines are cleaned regularly, and last week management discovered a wiring problem on one machine during routine maintenance. They had the device replaced within 48 hours, the spokesman said.

“The health and safety of our partners and our customers is our top priority,” said the spokesman.

Rep. Jerry Nadler, who represents parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, stood with union members in support of Wednesday’s protest.

“Starbucks is trying to bust this union. You were an unfair employer. They also endanger public health,” Nadler said.

The Chelsea Starbucks on Ninth Avenue at 15th Street was the first location in the city to unionize earlier this year. There are now seven unionized Starbucks in the city and more than 250 across the country. It’s also one of three roasteries in the country that are larger than regular locations and serve more menu items.

The strike comes after the company announced that a new 23,000-square-foot, three-story Starbucks reservation will open in the Empire State Building next month.