Well, not rugs, but anti-fatigue work mats.

In a viral post on Monday, a Starbucks employee in Clarksville, Indiana reported that only hours after store employees filed for union representation, management removed all anti-fatigue work mats across the store. They were later discovered in the store dumpster.

For a company that boasted more than $32 billion in revenue last year, it seems a inconsiderate and even petty move.

This filing should come as no surprise. Since August of 2021, 250 Starbucks in the US have petitioned for union representation, chiefly for a higher paycheck. Employees are paid $12/hour, amounting to $25,000 a year if full-time. For anyone with children or living near a major city, $12 an hour is just above a subsistence wage.

The missing anti-fatigue mats in the Clarksville Starbucks dumpster.

In response, Starbucks Executive Vice President and President of North America Operations Rosann Williams issued a seemingly heartfelt letter to these employees (whom she calls “partners”) just before Christmas in 2021. Although Starbucks made it clear they were not in favor of these unions, Ms. Williams said—

“…we will bargain in good faith with the union that represents partners in the one Buffalo store that voted in favor of union representation. Our hope is that union representatives also come to the table with mutual good faith, respect and positive intent.”

Anti-fatigue mats are a major safety issue for employees, both in preventing slip-and-fall accidents and in muscle strain. In 2020, workplace injuries cost $163.9 billion according to the National Safety Council, with each injury averaging around $44,000. Hardly worth the cost of some rubber mats, I’d say.

And it hardly seems like the “good faith” Ms. Williams touted.

Social media response to management’s actions have been overwhelmingly supportive for these employees.