Across the Nation, Starbucks Locations Have Been Closed for Days; Here’s Why


If you haven’t been able to get a morning coffee at your neighborhood Starbucks in the last few days, you’re not alone. More than 150 Starbucks employees are presently on strike, disrupting operations at dozens of Starbucks locations across the country.

Earlier this month, rumors surfaced that managers at certain Starbucks outlets had banned Pride Month displays. Starbucks Workers United, a union representing hundreds of shops, told The New York Times that workers were either forced to take down the bright displays or were told not to put them up in the first place, a policy change from previous years.

Late last week, the firm denied any changes to its corporate standards “as it relates to our inclusive store environments, our company culture, and the benefits we offer our partners.”

Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan and Sara Trilling, executive vice president and president of Starbucks North America signed a statement in which they said, “We continue to encourage our store leaders to celebrate with their communities, including for U.S. Pride month in June, as we always have.”

Nonetheless, Starbucks Workers United, which has led a nationwide campaign to unionize Starbucks employees in recent years, argues the alleged ban on Pride Month decor is the company’s latest act of “retaliation” against workers in the midst of unionization efforts.

The group also accused the firm of engaging in an “illegal union-busting campaign” and refusing to negotiate honestly with union stores.

While Starbucks has continually rejected these charges, judges have backed with the union in some cases where similar claims have reached the courts. According to The New York Times, in March, a National Labor Relations Board court concluded that Starbucks improperly monitored, reprimanded, and fired several employees in Buffalo, New York, who were involved in union organizing to reduce union support.

Starbucks said in a statement to the Times following the verdict that the ruling was “inappropriate” and that it was “considering all options to obtain further legal review.”

According to a press release from Starbucks Workers United, the current strikes began on June 23 and are anticipated to extend until June 30. The strikers are “demanding that Starbucks negotiate a fair contract with union stores and stop their illegal union-busting campaign, which has significantly impacted Starbucks’ LGBTQIA+ workforce.”

So far, they appear to be having an effect. Starbucks Workers United said in an update released on Twitter yesterday, June 26, that they had interrupted operations at hundreds of outlets throughout the country, “and we’re just getting started.”

According to a Starbucks representative, the strikes had “limited effects” on the company’s business, with an average of 12 outlets closed each day from June 23 to June 26.

The company responded to the accusations made by Workers United, stating, “Workers United continues to spread false information about our benefits, policies, and negotiation efforts—a tactic used to seemingly divide our partners and deflect from their failure to respond to bargaining sessions for more than 200 stores.”

Starbucks apologized to customers who may experience inconveniences at affected locations and encouraged them to use the online store locator or the Starbucks mobile app to find one of the more than 9,000 open stores nearby.

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