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Workers claim SPoT fired them over inquiring about starting a union

Nick Lippa

SPoT Coffee is being accused of firing three of their employees who inquired about starting a union. Two weeks ago, Spot coffee workers in Rochester organized a union. After workers at Buffalo stores found out, they started taking steps to do the same thing. Protestors lined up outside of SPoT's Williamsville location Wednesday morning.

Upstate New York Workers United Spokesperson Gary Bonadonna said this is the first of several planned protests.

“It’s just to make the customers and the community aware that the workers will not tolerate the company’s actions and behavior and it’s completely and totally unacceptable to fire workers for organizing a union.”

Charges today are being filed at the National labor Relations Board accusing Spot’s Hertel and Elmwood locations of unlawfully terminating their employees.

“They have a unit over there. We were looking to understand what would that even look like over here?” former Spot employee Phoenix Cerny asked.

Cerny is one of the fired workers who was out protesting. He’s kept in touch with his former co-workers who he said have been very supportive of the protests.

“But at the same time, my co-workers have expressed a certain level of uncertainty or fear around what happened. We understand that there’s a notion that exists that, if you try to unionize in this industry, that industry, you’re just going to get fired. They’re just going to do this or that. We’re here to say no,” he said. “You can’t just treat us how they want and get away with it.”

Cerny said he’s experienced hostility in the past from upper management at Spot.

“Spot has a sort of reputation in the community for letting people go for no good reason. I think that there’s no reason that should be the case,” he said. 

SPoT said on Twitter they will release a full statement to the media within 24 hours concerning untrue allegations regarding the recent termination of two employees and a manager.


Nick Lippa leads our Arts & Culture Coverage, and is also the lead reporter for the station's Mental Health Initiative, profiling the struggles and triumphs of those who battle mental health issues and the related stigma that can come from it.