BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Starbucks workers at the downtown Delaware and Chippewa store were on the picket line Thursday after they found out unionized stores would not be receiving the same new benefits as non-organizing stores.

They informed corporate in a letter early Thursday morning they’d be striking for the day.

The strike shut down the store for the day, which workers said sends a message.

CEO Howard Schultz announced this week he’ll be raising pay, extending training, and giving other benefits for non-union stores only.

“Where Starbucks lacks the right to unilaterally make these changes (for example, stores where there is a union or union organizing) Starbucks will provide wage increases that were announced in October 2021 and will otherwise comply with all applicable legal requirements,” the announcement said.

The new benefits are familiar to some workers who said they were originally proposed by the union.

“We are partners coming together because we love Starbucks and we want those benefits for partners and so being excluded in this because we are attempting to come together and make it a better company, it hurts,” said employee Emily Bassett.

Workers said they believe this is part of Starbucks’ ongoing attempt to retaliate against unionized stores.

They said they’ve experienced harassment and intimidation from corporate employees. They also said employees have been fired unjustly.

Employee Michelle Eisen said back in August, members of corporate stayed in hotels across the street from the Delaware and Chippewa location.

“This store was particularly inundated with surveillance and intimidation and just put in a really terrible position and this is the culmination of eight solid months of union busting,” said Eisen.

Workers also said they want Starbucks to bargain fairly with unionized stores.

The Elmwood Village location was the first store in the country to unionize back in December and they’ve been in collective bargaining since January.

“We’re here to get a fair contract and we’re here to stand up for Starbucks at this store, Starbucks down the road. Starbucks across Buffalo, and Starbucks across the entire U.S.,” said former employee Roisin Doherty.

The workers said they will go back to work Friday but hope this causes one-day or even longer strikes at other stores.

A Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement:

“We have and will continue to respect the rights of those who seek unionization and those who seek to keep a direct relationship with us as we build a better Starbucks. We have a responsibility to inform our partners of their compensation and benefits and the federal laws related to such benefits during unionization. We fully disagree with the mischaracterizations, baseless accusations and the falsehoods presented in their letter and are concerned with the impact such statements may have on our partners who disagree with the Workers United Organizers. We remain focused on working together in building a better Starbucks side by side with our partners and develop the types of investments and benefits that drive real change, present choice, and directly impact their lives. At stores where workers have union representation, Starbucks will continue bargaining in good faith as required by federal law.”

Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.