Starbucks accused by union of retaliation over closure of two locations

FAN Editor

On Tuesday, a labor union for Starbucks employees accused the coffeehouse chain of retaliation against unionization efforts.

Starbucks Workers United said workers at two stores, one on Holman Road in Seattle, Washington, and one at Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, were told Monday of the locations closing. The union accused the coffeehouse company of “clear retaliation,” noting the Seattle and Kansas City locations had both taken steps toward unionization.

Workers were told the Kansas City location was being shut down over safety concerns, the union said in a statement. That location voted to unionize in June, but the election resulted in a tie and remains pending, according to the Kansas City Star.

Starbucks union

Pro-union pins sit on a table during a watch party for Starbucks’ employees union election, Dec. 9, 2021, in Buffalo, N.Y.  (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File / AP Newsroom)

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“We regularly open and close stores as a standard part of our business operations,” a Starbucks spokesperson told FOX Business regarding the Kansas City location. “We apply the same focus on safety at unionized 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.”

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The Seattle store voted in favor of unionizing in late April, according to a tweet from Starbucks Workers United. It will transition to a licensed store that QFC, the grocery store chain attached to it, will run and staff. 

Starbucks Corp will raise menu prices in 2022 and reduce some spending to offset soaring costs for labor and goods, as rising COVID-19 cases prompted the coffee chain on Tuesday to lower estimates for profits this year. (Jeffrey Greenberg/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images / Getty Images)

“At Starbucks, we continue to evaluate the partner and customer experience at all of our stores. As a result, we have reached an agreement with QFC to operate the Holman Rd. location, which is attached to the QFC, as a licensed store. This decision will continue the long-term growth of this store and better align with the unique relationship this store has with customers and QFC,” the Starbucks spokesperson told FOX Business.

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Starbucks has faced growing union efforts, with over 220 stores across the country having voted to unionize. Earlier this month, the coffeehouse company urged the National Labor Relations Board chairman to suspend mail-in union elections, raising allegations labor board officials in certain areas had engaged in misconduct with union representatives.

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