Starbucks is set to close the first location to unionize in Seattle, Washington on December 9th. A Starbucks spokesperson claims the closure is due to safety concerns but members of Starbucks Workers United, the union organization representing several Starbucks stores claim it is out of retaliation for the store voting to unionize.
Here's what the Starbucks Spokesperson had to say:
“Unfortunately, despite several mitigating efforts, safety and security incidents at our Broadway and Denny store have continued to escalate.”
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said several stores will soon close due to safety issues:
“We are beginning to close stores. This is just the beginning. There are going to be many more.”
But Starbucks Workers United believe this latest store closing in Seattle is just one of several unionized locations closing because they decided to join the union. Starbucks Workers United issued a statement:
“This is the most clear-cut case of retaliation this company has shown closing a union store yet. Starbucks and Howard Schultz are playing petty games with workers’ lives. They lack respect not only for the rights of their workers but for the law of this country.”
This closure of a unionized Starbucks store is not a first, but one of several since stores began unionizing last year. It's the fourth union store to be closed in Seattle since July. In June a union Starbucks was closed in Ithaca New York and a popular location in Kansas City Missouri as well. A recent list shows 19 stores have closed and 8 of them were unionized, so even though the coffee giant is closing some unionized stores many closures are also of non-union locations.
Starbucks is allowed to close its stores for performance reasons or due to safety concerns but if it is closing stores out of retaliation for unionizing that would be against the law. Hundreds of unfair labor practice complaints have been filed against Starbucks by the union and the National Labor Relations Board has also filed complaints of its own against Starbucks.