Steamed Starbucks employees are spilling the beans over allegedly gross conditions at the company’s Manhattan flagship.
Since Tuesday, workers at the coffee mogul’s upscale Reserve Roastery store in the Meatpacking District, the first Starbucks in the Big Apple to unionize, have been on strike, protesting cleanliness issues they say have become a venti public health hazard.
“This includes a moldy ice machine that we are not equipped to properly remediate, still in current use, as well as the more recent situation with bed bugs being found in the Roastery this past Sunday,” Laura Garza, a longtime Starbucks worker of 22 years, told Patch.
“Proper protocols and communication to partners regarding bed bugs has been scarce — we are left in the dark,” Garza said.
Garza added in a Thursday press release that she had “gotten sick from attempting to clean the mold from the ice machine without proper training, and the bed bugs were just the last straw for us. We cannot risk bringing that home.”
A spokesperson for Starbucks told The Post that the allegations are without merit.
“Store management was made aware of a potential pest issue. They arranged for pest control service to inspect and treat the property per protocol.” they said. “Monday, the provider visited the Roastery location and found no infestation or insect activity. The pest control service gave the location the all-clear to re-open on Tuesday.”
The spokesperson added that last week there was a “wiring issue” with one ice machine and that Starbucks “had the unit replaced within 48 hours.”
Starbucks is also currently investigating the legitimacy of the photos depicting the mold, per a company source that asked not to be named.
But employees insist there’s a serious problem.
“[The air] is unsafe to breathe in, it’s not safe for us,” Kosmopoulos added. “The mold gets in our ice. We try our best to pick it out when we serve to customers. We’ve had employees clean out the ice machine and get sick from it.”
And they don’t buy the company’s line on the bed bugs, either.
“They called in a specialist, the specialist found no nest, but on Monday there was another bed bug found in our manager’s office,” striking employee Athena Kosmopoulos told Vice. “Once you find one, honestly, it’s already there. It’s a huge problem. It’s a really big space— you can’t tell me that they’re not nesting.”
The protest comes amidst ongoing union negotiations between employees and Starbucks across the nation, along with the announcement of another Reserve Roastery location opening soon at the Empire State Building.
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