Citing safety reasons, Starbucks has announced that it will be closing 16 stores across the country, including one in Washington, D. C. The Union Station location is among those scheduled to close later this month, along with stores in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon and Seattle. In a separate letter, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz shared a set of principles and a new partnership to reinvent the company's next chapter.
However, some have raised questions about the decision to close certain stores. In June, Starbucks workers at a store in Ithaca, New York, alleged that their store was being closed in retaliation for union activism. The union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that the company had made “a clear attempt to scare workers across the country.” The company has stated that the closures are intended to make Starbucks locations safer for customers and employees. In a letter sent to employees on July 11th, Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson, senior vice president of U.
S. operations at Starbucks, cited safety reasons for the closure of the Union Station store. Last month, Starbucks also closed a unionized store in Ithaca, New York due to operational problems such as an overflowing grease trap. The decision to close stores was based on the number of crime reports filed at each store as well as their success in reducing those rates. This follows an incident in April 2018 when two African-American men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia while waiting for a business meeting.
The men later reached an agreement with Starbucks. Since the end of last year, several Starbucks stores have voted to unionize according to the National Labor Relations Board. Starbucks Workers United, the labor group organizing the effort, has said it intends to file unfair labor practice charges against Starbucks on behalf of two unionized stores that are closing in Seattle. In addition to closing stores, Starbucks is also taking steps to make its locations safer for customers and employees. The company has launched an Outreach Worker program in eight cities which connects store employees with nonprofit groups that can help customers who are chronically homeless, mentally ill or who abuse drugs.