Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

Starbucks Fires Worker and Union Organizer in New Orleans

Left Voice interviewed Billie Nyx, a Starbucks worker and union activist fired at the store located on Maple Street in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Left Voice

May 20, 2022
Facebook Twitter Share
Starbucks baristas at the 7700 Maple St. Starbucks
Image: Billie Nyx

Over 75 Starbucks stores have been already unionized, at least 200 are currently waiting for their election vote, and likely dozens or even hundreds of others are waiting for their moment to file for an election. But the corporation, run by billionaire Howard Schultz, is fighting back: across the country, at least 20 union organizers have been fired in the last few months.

Last Tuesday, Starbucks fired Billie Nyx, a 22-year-old worker leading the union drive at the Maple Street store in New Orleans. They had worked at Starbucks for three years, and for about one year in that location. The union vote is scheduled for the first week of June and is the first election at a Starbucks in Louisiana.

The reason Starbucks gave for them being fired is that they closed the store three hours early during the weekend of Jazz Fest, a popular local festival. According to Nyx, they closed “because we were understaffed and we had just a ridiculous volume of business happening because not only was it a jazz fest, but it was also finals. And we get a lot of college students in our store, especially around finals time.”

Nyx’s initial idea was to turn off the delivery and mobile orders to ease the pressure. But a store manager from a different store called and yelled at them not to do it. After not receiving any kind of help from managers, and due to the understaffing and overwhelming demand, Nyx decided to close the store. At that point, no manager had told them that this decision would end in a firing. As Nyx put it: “I thought it was okay because it had been done many, many times before.” It was the excuse they found to fire them.

Left Voice spoke to Nyx about the union drive at Starbucks and the union busting attempts.


Did you have previous experience in unions when you started organizing at your store?

So whenever I started doing all this, I had no experience in organizing at all. And I kind of just started having these one-on-one conversations with my coworkers and being like: “Hey, we’re thinking about doing a union, would you guys be into that?” And most people were in support of the union.

What were some of the reasons that made you all want to have a union?

One time, they cut our hours right before our busiest season during Mardi Gras because we’re right by the streetcar line. We had a lot of business and we were really understaffed. I personally thought it was ridiculous. And you know, the wages, we feel like we’re not properly compensated for the amount of work that they’re putting on us because we are so short staffed that we have to pick up the work of another person. Every day. And it’s really physically breaking people down. We want to get paid for the extra work that we’re doing.

We want tips on the credit card machines. Because that’s something that we’ve been wanting for forever and customers wanted as well. And also [we] just want to end the pay disparity. A worker who’s been at that same store for 13 years and I’ve been working for Starbucks for three years and we make the same amount of money. 

Among a long long laundry list of things that certainly needs to change.

Where did you get the inspiration to start the union drive?

We were inspired by the people in Buffalo. I think it was really just seeing that it could be done successfully, that really told people that, you know, it’s possible. And if we all band together and do it, then we can make this better for ourselves. So we were absolutely inspired by the people in Buffalo. 

And I’ve been, since I’ve gotten into this, I’ve been more connected to the organizing committee, the organizing community in this city, and workers rights activists. And talking to a friend of mine that works in one of the Amazon warehouses. And the work that they do is inspiring because I can’t imagine working in those horrible, horrible conditions at Amazon. No one can convince me that Jeff Bezos is not a supervillain. It’s despicable how he treats his workers and for them to be doing that job and organizing at the same time is incredible. It’s just that they’re super heroes. 

What do you think will be the result of the union vote? What are the next steps?

I’m really confident in our ability to win. Like I can say it with 100% certainty, I’m pretty confident in my coworkers. I know that we’re going to win this vote. And about my firing, we are planning to file an unfair labor practice charge against them. The end goal really is for me to get my job back because I truly love my job and I love my coworkers and I want to work there forever. 

On May 28th, we are having a Starbucks workers appreciation barbecue. Part of the fundraising will go towards helping me pay my bills because now I don’t have a job. 

Follow Billie’s situation and support them here

Facebook Twitter Share

Left Voice

Militant journalism, revolutionary politics.

Labor Movement

The Strike Is Our Most Powerful Weapon, We Need to Use It against the Police!

Workers have the opportunity and ability to shut down the system. This is why Democrats, Republicans, and even the Squad broke the strike of the railroad workers. If we use our workplaces as organizing tools against racism and police murder, we can build the power to take control and shut them down! 

Julia Wallace

February 3, 2023

Dispatches from the Picket Lines: All Out for the Temple Graduate Workers Strike

A Temple faculty member reports.

Jason Koslowski

February 3, 2023

New York Nurses’ Strike Shows the Way Forward for Labor

Over 7,000 nurses struck at New York hospitals for three days, winning important partial gains. Despite attempts to avert the strike by the hospital bosses, Democratic Party politicians, and elements within the leadership of the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), the bargaining committees of two major hospitals held strong.

Thaddeus Greene

February 2, 2023
Amazon workers protesting the company's union busting.

Our Lives and Labor Stolen from Us: Reflections of a Black Amazon Worker

"A journal entry on my experience as a Black Amazon worker. I dedicate this entry to Tyre Nichols and to all victims of police and military violence here and abroad; our enemy is the same."

Carmin Maffea

February 1, 2023


A horizontal testing scantron with almost all of the bubbles filled in

The Changes to AP African American Studies Are “Absolutely Political”: A Former College Board Worker Speaks Out

A former College Board worker explains how the company's "apolitical" pedagogical approaches privilege right wing ideas, even as the right wing accuses them of spreading "wokeism."

Jess DuBois

February 4, 2023

Massive Looting of Public Resources at Stake in District Detroit Redevelopment Scheme

Billionaire developers in Detroit have proposed capturing almost one billion dollars in public money to fund their newest project. The deal is far from sealed, but organized community opposition will be necessary to prevent approvals from sailing through.

Rita Singer

February 3, 2023

British ‘Mega Strike’: Half a Million Workers Bring UK to a Halt and Protest Government

Over half a million workers in the UK went on strike on February 1 to protest the Conservative government and demand higher wages.

Diego Sacchi

February 2, 2023
Protesters in Paris over proposed pension reforms.

‘Robin Hood’ Strikes in France: Workers Provide Free Energy for Hospitals, Schools, and Low-Income Homes

Last week, energy workers in France provided free energy for hospitals, schools, low-income households, and libraries. They show that the working class holds the keys to the economy, and can put these resources in the service of society.

Otto Fors

February 1, 2023