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Auburn baristas claim they were 'unfairly fired' as new owners take over coffee stand
Gabrielle Connelly and Crystal Winterton wanted the world to know that they were mad at the Rock Star Coffee Bar.
Perched on the sidewalk in front of the stand at 5015 Auburn Way N., and warmly bundled against the biting wind, they broadcast their anger.
"Unfairly Fired!" complained Winterton's sign.
"Boycott this stand!!!" said Connelly's.
Passing drivers hit horns, gave thumbs-up, slowed to find out what was up.
"You rock," bellowed one supportive motorist.
Winterton, 27, said she began working for the stand — Little Ms. Java under its former owners — in February and had been managing it until this week. For the past three weeks, aware that the business was about to be sold, she said, she and Connelly worked it by themselves.
"The old owners, Angela and Ray, said they were going to sell, and we met with the new owners who said we were going to be allowed to keep our jobs and that they were going to make a few schedule changes, but that we would probably like it," said Winterton. "Over the weekend, they decided to let Gabby and me go."
"No two-weeks notice, no notice at all," Connelly fumed.
A police officer showed up to discuss a complaint from the barista inside the stand that the women were impeding traffic. The officer issued a verbal trespassing warning and left.
"We've been here — on the sidewalk – all morning," Winterton said.
"Apparently, they say we're 'threatening the girls,'" Connelly said.
Connelly said she had been working at the business for two months, putting in 47 hours a week to keep it going.
"My first month's rent is coming up, and I have no rent … It's just been Crystal and me here the last two or three weeks, then they took us out. All they said was they wanted to start new," Connelly said.
Winterton said she doesn't want her job back.
"I'm just ticked off and want everybody to know that what they did was really unfair, then move on and find another job," said Winterton.
All a misundertanding, said owner Mickey Fay.
He said he bought the stand for his wife, and that Winterton and Connelly never actually worked for him.
"They're not former baristas of mine," Fay said. "That's the thing they don't get. I bought the stand last Friday from the owner that they worked for. I shut the stand down Saturday and Sunday to do some remodeling, and I just called them and told them we were going to make changes, and they weren't involved. They were never actually employees of mine … I can't fire them if they weren't my employees; they didn't come with the contract."