Workers at Austin-based juice bar Juiceland are currently on strike, which temporarily forced the closure of the chain’s West Dallas location.
The outpost of Juiceland at Sylvan Thirty is set to reopen on Tuesday, May 25, following a week-long closure amid the strike, according to the Dallas Morning News. According to an Instagram account created by the strikers, the decision to walk off the job came after a year of “unsanitary, rough working conditions” and a lack of hazard pay amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The strikes took place at Juiceland shops across the state, including locations in Austin and Dallas.
Now, as Juiceland plans to reopen, the United Front of Juice Crews says that the company is hiring replacement workers, commonly referred to as “scabs,” to replace people that are striking for better working conditions. According to the group, staffers at the Sylvan Thirty location met with Juiceland’s HR department last week, and the issues over working conditions and pay were not resolved. The group also says that the company has failed to address allegations of systemic racism and sexual harassment at JuiceLand.
“The Dallas crew says that the meeting went around in circles as the head of HR had no intentions to actually listen to their grievances and everything they asked for was ignored,” the group says. “Meanwhile they have been hiring several new employees. This is a loophole in the system. Strikers legally cannot be fired but Juiceland can, and will, hire replacements and cease to schedule the old crew as a way to avoid the repercussions of unlawfully firing their staff.”
In an open letter to its workforce, JuiceLand addressed the allegations and outlined its plans to move forward on a series of initiatives intended to improve diversity and inclusion at the company. In that letter, the company also announced that it would raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour for employees who receive tips, and $17 per hour for the back-of-house employees that prepare the ingredients that go into Juiceland’s pricey smoothies.
“We realize there have been several allegations posted on social media and our silence has been confusing for our crew. While it is tempting to respond to these allegations, to do so in a public format would be inappropriate,” the letter reads. “To be clear, JuiceLand does not tolerate racism, sexism, sexual harassment or any other inappropriate conduct in the workplace. Any and all reports of discrimination or other inappropriate conduct of any type will be investigated fully. We have committed to partnering with a third party entity to collect any current or past incidents that may have occurred.”
In addition to higher wages and a pledge to investigate incidents of discrimination or harassment, JuiceLand has also announced that it will offer improved diversity training to its managers, and improve communications with its workers. For the United Front of Juice Crews, though, those moves likely won’t be enough.
“They have repeatedly let us down in their co-opting of our ideas for implementation of policies, and claiming them as their own as if they had been working on them previously,” the group wrote on Instagram. “They have repeatedly manipulated the narrative to being an inclusive environment for all while sweeping under the rug allegations of higher-ups themselves.”
In the meantime, a GoFundMe fundraising page has been established to raise money for workers who have lost wages as they conduct the strike. At the time of this writing, that GoFundMe has raised more than $13,000 of its $15,000 goal.
Update: This story has been corrected to reflect that the JuiceLand location was forced to close for one week, not two.