Former employees protest popular Nashville coffee company

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Popular Nashville coffee company Barista Parlor faces a federal unfair labor practice complaint after a former employee admitted she was fired for forming a union.

Xochitl Cruz Lopez said he 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 believed it was because she had recently started talking to other employees about pushing for better working conditions.

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

Dozens 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 Barista Parlor to take her signature drink off the menu, stopping intimidating employees who are organizing and paying 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’m just very happy. “

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

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

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