- Alexis Rizzo, who served as a Starbucks shift supervisor for seven years, was fired Friday.
- Rizzo sparked what has become a nationwide labor movement when she worked to unionize two Starbucks stores in Buffalo, New York.
- “That is beyond unacceptable. Ms. Rizzo must be reinstated,” Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted.
Starbucks has fired the worker who ignited a campaign at the coffee chain that led nearly 300 locations across the country to unionize.
Alexis Rizzo, the Buffalo-based Starbucks worker who began the Starbucks Workers United campaign, was fired after seven years with the company, Starbucks Workers United tweeted Saturday. CNBC later confirmed.
Insider reached out to Starbucks for comment Saturday, but did not immediately receive a response.
In an interview with CNBC, Rizzo said she was fired after her shift Friday, and that managers cited four times she was late for work. Rizzo said that two of those times she was one minute late.
A Starbucks spokesperson told CNBC that firings at the company only occur following clear policy violations, adding that Rizzo’s attendance impacted other workers at her store.
“We appreciate that our Genesee St. partners provided the Starbucks Experience to each other and our customers this morning, and that area stores continue to serve customers without interruption this weekend,” spokesperson Rachel Wall said in a statement.
—Starbucks Workers United (@SBWorkersUnited) April 1, 2023
Rizzo’s firing follows former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s recent appearance before Congress, where he was questioned by senators over alleged widespread union busting.
Leading that hearing was Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who grilled Schultz over the company’s treatment of employees in Buffalo stores, and asked specifically about a recent ruling that Starbucks illegally monitored and fired employees there.
When news of Rizzo’s firing broke, Sanders demanded that Rizzo get her job back.
“Instead of negotiating a first union contract as required by law, Starbucks has chosen to double down on its illegal union busting by firing Alexis Rizzo, a union leader in Buffalo who worked for Starbucks for 7 years,” Sanders wrote on Twitter. “That is beyond unacceptable. Ms. Rizzo must be reinstated.”
—Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) April 2, 2023
Rizzo said the job was a major part of her life. “I’m absolutely heartbroken. It wasn’t just a job for me. It was like my family,” Rizzo told CNBC. “It was like losing everything. I’ve been there since I was 17 years old. It’s like my entire support system, and I think that they knew that.”
Starbucks Workers United posted a GoFundMe page for Rizzo Friday, pulling in nearly $7,000 for Rizzo in a day. On the page, Starbucks and its management are accused of retaliation following Schultz’s congressional hearing.