Starbucks union says Pride weekend strikes closed 21 US stores
Jun 26, 2023, 9:09 AM
(AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson, File)
The union organizing Starbucks workers said Monday that a strike timed to Pride month closed 21 stores over the weekend, including the company’s flagship Reserve Roastery in Seattle.
The strike will continue through this week and is expected to close or disrupt operations at more than 150 stores, Starbucks Workers United said. The Seattle Roastery was closed all day Friday and was open for just five hours on Sunday instead of its usual 15, the union said.
Workers are protesting reports that some Starbucks stores Target, where angry customers tipped over Pride displays and confronted workers. The union also says Starbucks officials have warned workers that unionizing could threaten their health benefits, including gender affirming care for transgender workers.
But Starbucks insists there has been no change of corporate policy around Pride displays or employee benefits. Starbucks extended full health care to same-sex partners in 1988 and added coverage for gender reassignment surgery in 2013.
In a letter to employees posted Friday on Starbucks’ website, CEO Laxman Narasimhan noted that a Pride flag is currently flying over the company’s Seattle headquarters, just as it has in past years.
“We want to be crystal clear: Starbucks has been and will continue to be at the forefront of supporting the LGBTQIA2+ community, and we will not waver in that commitment,” Narasimhan said. “As such, we strongly disapprove of any person or group, seeking to use our partners’ cultural and heritage celebrations to create harm or flagrantly advance misinformation for self-interested goals.”
At least 319 of Starbucks’ 9,265 company-operated U.S. stores have voted to unionize since late 2021, while 76 stores have voted against unionizing, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Workers are seeking guaranteed minimum hours, gender-neutral store bathrooms and safety improvements, among other things.
But Starbucks doesn’t support unionization, and the effort has been contentious. Earlier this month, the company agreed to settle an NLRB complaint that it improperly blocked unionized employees from working shifts at University of Washington football games. The company agreed to back pay for 10 workers and also said it would inform current employees in the Seattle area that it won’t interfere with their right to organize.