Starbucks has filed a complaint alleging the planned closure of the coffee chain is retaliation

A group of workers from the union that regulates Starbucks employees in stores across the country has filed a labor complaint about the company’s decision to close 16 of its coffee shops, including the Philadelphia location on 10th and Chestnut Streets.

The Starbucks Workers Union, which has paid off more than 130 US stores in recent months, has filed an unfair business practice lawsuit with the National Labor Relations Board, In This Times reports. Seattle workers who filed the suit said the company’s move to close 16 stores was a form of union-busting and retaliation.

Starbucks revealed this week that it will do just that Stores closing In Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland, Philadelphia, and Washington DC

In two letters to employees, the company said the choice to close stores was based on safety concerns expressed in accident reports submitted by workers at the affected stores. The company said complaints ranged from drug abuse by customers and members of the public to mental health and racism crises directed against Starbucks employees.

“If Starbucks really cares about the safety of its partners, it will compromise about ways to ensure they are protected, not displace workers by closing stores,” Marina Molthope, legal counsel at SBWU, told In This Times.

Workers at a Seattle union store, which is listed as closing at the end of July, posted a notice on the company’s door describing the company’s actions as “disingenuous.”

The union push among Starbucks workers was motivated, in part, by a desire to negotiate solutions to the kinds of safety concerns that caused problems for employees at some locations. In a letter to employees on Tuesday, Starbucks’ two directors of US operations, Debbie Stroud and Dennis Nelson, indicated that the company will allow managers the ability to restrict seats, reduce operations, and close restrooms in response to safety concerns.

This last point is a reversal of company policy adopted in 2018, following an incident at Starbucks on 18th Street and Walnut Street in Philadelphia. Two black men were caught in the store while waiting for a friend to arrive for a business meeting. One of the guys asked to use the shop restroom, but the manager refused it because he didn’t buy anything.

The incident, which received national attention, prompted Starbucks to issue a public apology and pledge to allow more access to restrooms.

In Philadelphia, workers at four Starbucks locations voted to join a union in May. The Center City store due to close is not one of the city’s syndicate stores.

Josie Serrano, organizer and barista maker at SBWU in Los Angeles, told In This Times that the company’s welcoming policies in its stores led to incidents that union employees wanted to address with management to find solutions, including the possibility of adding security.

“If we can have a fair opportunity to bargain with the company about our safety concerns, we don’t need to close the store because we will be able to add more security to these stores,” Serrano said.

The work complaint filed by SBWU seeks injunctive relief for workers at the 16 affected Starbucks stores, which would expedite a court order as the case is litigated in the coming months. A similar process is underway in New York, where a complaint is seeking injunctive relief for workers at two union stores in the Buffalo area where employees have alleged labor abuses.

The spokesperson said: “We empower local leaders, who have repeatedly emphasized that they care deeply about creating a safe and welcoming environment in the community. The company renews its commitment to safety, kindness and welcome in our stores.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.