A Starbucks Worker Got Fired After 13 Years, Sparking A Union Walkout

Sarah Kester
Starbucks workers
Unsplash | Asael Peña

Starbucks is in hot water.

Sam Amato is a former Starbucks employee who worked for the company for 13 years. That's like a lifetime in the service industry years!

But the 33-year-old was sadly let go at the beginning of August over a month-old violation. This injustice wasn’t forgotten. It inspired a union walkout that’s led to a viral video. 

Starbucks has been catching significant flack over the past few years. 

Sarah crying at work
TikTok | @0utspoken

Back in September 2021, a former worker named Sarah (@0utspoken on the TikTok app) went viral for tearfully breaking down during a shift over the stress of the job.

In the now-deleted TikTok video, she tearfully explained that she was put on the busiest shift as a brand-new employee.

Starbucks worker handing coffee

In addition to this, the drive-thru was broken and they were incredibly short-staffed. She probably would've been okay had she received adequate training, but she hadn't.

“I’m a [expletive] failure; I hate this job,” Sarah said, adding that she's on the verge of quitting three weeks into her new job.

Sarah crying at work
TikTok | @0utspoken

“I’m at like a 15,” Sarah said. “I can’t do this. I am so done, and I have been here for two-and-a-half [expletive] hours.”

In another viral video, Sarah shared that she got into trouble after a co-worker shared the viral video with a manager. 

Starbucks logo
Unsplash | Khadeeja Yasser

Then, two weeks after “standing up” to a co-worker who was allegedly “harassing and bullying” her, Sarah explained that she was fired on July 4.

Starbucks employees, both former and current, could sympathize with Sarah.

Woman sympathizing

“That’s Starbucks for you," one wrote. “It's a horrible place to work,” another added.

Some were less supportive, with some asking what kind of busy conditions she expected from a job like Starbucks.

Now, the mega coffee chain is sparking controversy again.

Sam holding a sign
Fortune | Fortune

This time, it involves Sam Amato, a 33-year-old former barista who spent 13 years working with the company. He was suddenly fired on August 5 for a month-old violation that was connected to closing the store early.

“I mean, it’s been 13 years," he told Fortune about the firing that left him "blindsided."

Sad man looking out blinds
Unsplash | Ethan Sykes

"It’s how I get my paycheck. It’s how I get my insurance. It’s how I make a living. “To have that pulled from under you…it was a devastating moment.” 

In an even more surprising turn of events, Amato didn't leave the store alone that day.

Starbucks workers
Unsplash | Asael Peña

All six employees working in the store with him at the time walked out to show their support.

They were followed by many more Starbucks Workers United union members and staff from other locations in the area.

This epic moment was captured in a viral video that's since been viewed over 21 million times.

Starbucks employees walking out
TikTok | @sbworkersunited

“When your entire store walks out after management unjustly fires your co-worker for being a union leader," the caption of the video read.

Starbucks has since denied that Amato's involvement with the union was the cause of his firing.

Starbucks logo
Unsplash | Jiawei Zhao

But even Amato has admitted that he was "very active" in July with Starbucks Workers United, a union that came to be after a historic vote last December.

Amato had even filed an ethics complaint against the very manager who fired him.

In addition to Sam, Starbucks has fired nine other union leaders in the Buffalo area. The union is prepared to fight, as they have filed an unfair labor practice charge on Amato’s behalf.

H/T: Fortune