The months-long struggle to unionize Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Co. is all but over.
The strikers announced on Monday that they were withdrawing from an election to form a union because the company was closing its stores.
“While we are disappointed and heartbroken, we are grateful to everyone who stood by us, for your solidarity, love and support,” workers said in a statement. “We have been on strike for more than 150 days and we have all had to find new jobs. Our resources, time and energy must be taken care of in order to stay in the fight for workers’ rights.
The coffee chain’s main site on Woodward Avenue in Midtown closed in early January due to an outbreak of COVID-19, and it hasn’t been open since workers went on strike in February.
Earlier this month, Great Lakes Coffee closed its stores in two small former Meijer stores at Woodward Corner Market in Royal Oak and Rivertown Market in Detroit.
According to the Great Lakes Coffee website, the company now has two locations in Metro Detroit and one in Key West, Florida.
The employees were demanding a fair contract that included a starting wage of at least $15 an hour; COVID-19 protocols; protections against harassment and discrimination; affordable health, dental and vision insurance; and paid leave, including sick leave and parental leave.
Workers said they were overworked, understaffed, underpaid and mistreated by management.
The National Labor Relations Board approved an election for unionization after 11 days of hearings.
“We fought every step of the way, and we’re not getting anywhere,” the employees said. “As our fight continues, we remind you that all struggles are linked. We plan to continue to organize with our community.
Metro timetables could not reach Great Lakes Coffee for comment.
Meanwhile, 10 Michigan Starbucks stores have voted to unionize and two more plan to hold union elections.
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