When Chris Dobbs walked into Aura Coffee Thursday, he didn’t expect to be let go without explanation. When Aura Coffee management woke up Friday, it didn’t expect to face the beginnings of a fierce community boycott.
Dobbs, the longest working employee at Aura Coffee (formerly Big Mike’s), and his partner Maggie are receiving massive amounts of community support, because of the bizarre and inexplicable firing from Aura management.
According to a statement by Chris,
“I was let-go without due warning after being added to the summer schedule without any reason for termination honestly given. I have been vocal about my worldviews when it comes to labor, and I’ll stand by them.”
Maggie, quit in solidarity with the bizarre decision by management. A statement on their Facebook reads,
“I appreciate everyone’s support on Chris being dismissed and me quitting in solidarity from that coffee shop. Why did I quit? Because it was my husband? No. Because it was my best friend? No. Why did I ask that there be a boycott—for either of those reasons? No. Rather, I quit in solidarity with him and EVERYONE WORKING THERE. It is a HORRIBLE precedent to set for the owner/manager to walk in and fire someone without a provided cause. Unlike any other employee ever let go from that establishment, he was given no real reason other than “I’m done.”
The silence from management led to speculation by customers and community members as to why an employee who had become an institution at the coffee house had been let go. Due to recent renovations, Aura was described as having a “noxious paint smell,” which led to many customers taking their coffee to-go, or avoiding the store altogether. The employees, which didn’t have that option resorted to breaking health codes by propping open doors to allow fresh air to flow through their workplace.
Others contend that since Dobbs and Maggie are active members of the LGBTQ community and supporters of workers rights that Aura dismissed him based on this.
This speculation has been outright denied by both Chris and Maggie. [editor TRL, change made 2019/6/1 7:45CST]
Some claim that the decision was based as a cost-saving measure. When Aura’s predecessor, Big Mikes, first opened; every person hired there made $10 per hour. Since new management took over, all the new hires make between eight and nine dollars an hour and considerable raises had been virtually eliminated.
The only statement released (which has been deleted) by Aura management has been a post onto the Barista Guild of North Texas facebook page, it reads:
A member of the group, Adam Mahout, posted in response:
“This post seems unethical and unprofessional. Because you have the right to fire employees without due notice does not mean the employee doesn’t have the right to be angry and inform the clientele that he has helped create at the Big Mike’s/Aura location (longer that you’ve owned the location) that he feels wronged, and that this ‘good business decision’ is not an ethical decision or a choice for workers.”
The clear attempts of blacklisting Chris has led many community members to encourage him to seek legal counsel.
The boycott committee has decided to lead by example and centered their 3 demands to better the lives of existing Aura employees:
1. All future firings are to be held to a vote within Aura, with all employees given a chance to voice grievances without fear of reprisal.
2. Dividing among all the remaining baristas the wages saved from firing Dobbs and Maggie quitting to get their colleagues closer to a living minimum wage.
3. That management provide a detailed written statement outlining the supposed cause for termination to be provided to Chris within ten days of receiving this demand.
The silence coming from Aura management hints that they are going for the “If we ignore them they’ll go away” strategy.