Starbucks may not be closing stores due to security reasons, but why is Starbucks shutting down stores right now? Here's what you should know. Denise Nelson and Debbie Stroud, senior vice presidents of United States Operations for Starbucks, shared a letter on July 11 with details about the closures. They stated that employees are “seeing firsthand the challenges facing the personal safety of our communities, racism, lack of access to health care, the growing mental health crisis, increasing drug use and more. Starbucks plans to provide other locations with active shooter training, mental health benefits and access to essential healthcare.
However, some have speculated that stores are being closed in response to the unionization push by Starbucks employees. A Reddit post shows a note left on the door by employees of a Seattle store that is scheduled to close, stating that the store will close against the will of workers two months after they won their union. He also alleges that the future of workers with Starbucks has remained uncertain. Starbucks Workers United filed a complaint alleging that the closures are retaliation for unionizing, but Starbucks has not responded to complaints. Last month, Starbucks also closed a unionized store in Ithaca, New York, due to operational problems, including an overflowing grease trap.
On July 13, Seattle radio host Ari Hoffman posted on Twitter a video taken during an internal Starbucks meeting. Although the spokeswoman declined to specify the individual incidents that prompted the closures, on Monday, Starbucks executives acknowledged that workers have encountered an avalanche of problems, some related to drug use, mental health and racism in the neighborhoods they serve. Starbucks also pointed to an effort now in eight cities called Outreach Worker, which connects store employees to nonprofit groups that can help with customers who are chronically homeless, mentally ill, or who abuse drugs. Starbucks is closing 16 stores in cities across the country, citing fears that its customers and workers weren't safe, despite the company's training in skills such as conflict reduction, dealing with an active shooter, and how to engage community and emergency services. Starbucks Workers United, the labor group organizing the effort, said it intends to file unfair labor practice charges against Starbucks on behalf of the two unionized stores that are closing in Seattle. Faced with a lawsuit from a recognized union, Starbucks would have to negotiate on the effects of the store closure, said Robert Fetter, an employment lawyer at the law firm Miller Cohen. The effort to unionize Starbucks workers, which has so far been adopted in 133 stores, began last year in Buffalo as part of a revived interest in organizing by workers in various industries.
While competing for workers, Starbucks has recently embarked on what CEO Howard Shultz described as a “significant reinvention of the company” although it's not yet clear what such a renewal would look like. Starbucks will close 16 U. S. stores by the end of July due to safety and disruptive behavior in locations in Los Angeles, Seattle and other major cities. The closure announcement comes as a Starbucks union organizing campaign that began in Buffalo, New York spreads to other states and cities.
Schultz said Starbucks is closing stores and potentially others in the future as a result of sessions it had with employees which Starbucks refers internally as “retail partners”.Six stores in Seattle, six in Los Angeles, two in Portland one in Philadelphia and one in Washington DC will close a Starbucks spokesman confirmed. That decision came after a Starbucks employee called police to report two black men who were denied use of a bathroom and asked to leave.