Starbucks has already closed some unionized stores

Some recently unionized Starbucks stores have already been shut down. In July, Starbucks announced that it was closing 16 US stores over safety issues in and around the locations, such as drug use and disruptive behavior that threatened staff. Workers were critical of the company for not consulting them over the closings and making more effort to provide a safe working environment for their employees.

Two stores that are being closed in Seattle were unionized, and one in Portland had planned on holding a union vote next month. The Starbucks union has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging that the closures are retaliative and an attempt to chill union activity.

In early June, Starbucks also closed a unionized store in Ithaca that had gone on strike in response to a broken grease trap.

How Starbucks is treating unionizing stores

Employees at unionizing shops have said that the company is threatening to withhold travel benefits for abortion and gender-affirming care at shops that are unionizing. (For its part, Starbucks has said that employees enrolled in Starbucks healthcare will have access to the travel benefits, but it can’t make guarantees of benefits for unionized stores because of the bargaining process).

Workers also suspect that a plan to combine three stores into a new customer experience called Heritage Market in Seattle is part of the company’s union-busting effort. The move allowed Starbucks to lay off several workers, and get around the NLRB’s ruling that every store would be responsible for its own union election, workers said.

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