Starbucks has recently closed two more unionised locations, one in Seattle and one in Kansas City. Starbucks Workers United claims it is an act of retaliation, similar to a series of closures that took place in July. The coffee chain giant denies the allegation and states business and safety reasons for closing the said stores.
Starbucks says that it has closed the unionised Seattle location to make way for a licenced store with grocery store chain QFC. Meanwhile, the Kansas City store, which has filed for a unionisation election and is still awaiting vote results, has been closed for safety reasons.
We apply the same focus on safety at unionised and non-union stores, and are closing non-union stores where we are similarly challenged in providing a safe environment for our customer and partner experience.Spokesperson, Starbucks
SBWorkers United debunks the company’s reasons for closing the stores. The union argues that employees were already being transferred to the QFC-licenced store as early as the second week of August, and they believe this is the latest example of Starbucks’ union-busting activity.
Starbucks closed 16 locations in July due to safety concerns and drug use in restrooms. That same week, a video of Starbucks interim CEO Howard Schultz surfaced, saying that the closures were “only the beginning” and that “many more” would follow. Schultz already expressed his plan to address safety concerns during “the era of significant reinvention,” which is reportedly the reason for shutting down the Kansas City store.
SB Workers United responded that while safety concerns are a major reason many employees choose to organise, it doesn’t make sense that the company’s solution to addressing these concerns is to close stores rather than work with employees and the union.
Starbucks has closed 19 stores in the last few months, 42% of which had union activity, the Starbucks union stated.