Former employees protest popular Nashville coffee company

Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 4:16 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Popular Nashville coffee company Barista Parlor faces a federal unfair labor practices complaint after a former employee claimed she was fired for considering forming a union.

Xochitl Cruz Lopez said she worked at the company’s Golden Sound location for seven years, being promoted from cook to barista to manager, before being fired in April.

Barista Parlor said she was insubordinate, but Cruz Lopez said she believes it was because she had recently started talking with other employees about pushing for better working conditions.

“We never felt like we were compensated enough for the work that we do, so all of this started with everyone else in the company feeling the same way and hearing that everyone else wanted change,” Cruz Lopez said. “That’s when I reached out to everyone, and all of this started.”

Dozens of other former employees and worker’s rights activists gathered outside the store on Thursday to protest what happened to Cruz Lopez. The protest was led by Workers’ Dignity and ROC Music City, pushing for change at the company.

In addition to her National Labor Relations Board complaint, Cruz Lopez is asking for Barista Parlor to take her signature drink off the menu, stop intimidating employees who are organizing and pay all employees a living wage.

“In our demands, we wanted a base pay for everyone to be $15 per hour,” Cruz Lopez said. “I feel very thankful and grateful to have such a community and support behind me. I can’t express it, honestly, but I am just very happy.”

“Obviously, we are very agitated and mad because that is the right of workers to actually organize to improve working conditions with their coworkers,” Workers’ Dignity executive director Cecilia Prado said. “It is very important to know that as workers, we deserve to not live in poverty. If we are working 40 hours a week, we don’t deserve to live in poverty.”

Barista Parlor declined an interview opportunity and instead released the following statement to WSMV 4:

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