some organized starbucks Stores will go on strike across the US starting Friday in Seattle after the coffee giant and the union representing baristas clashed publicly over claims the company was not allowing Pride Month decorations in the coffees.
The union, Starbucks Workers United, said more than 150 stores representing nearly 3,500 workers have pledged to join the strikes, which will take place over the next week. More than two dozen additional stores are voting on strike authorizations and the count could rise to nearly 200 stores by the end of the week, the union said.
Last week, the union alleged that dozens of American stores were not allowing employees to decorate for Pride month, allegations that suggested a wave of backlash against LGBTQ inclusion it had reached a perceived liberal stronghold in corporate America. Starbucks said it had not reviewed its guidelines for store décor.
“There have been no changes to any policy on this matter and we continue to encourage our store leaders to celebrate with their communities, including for US Pride month in June,” the company said last week, adding that unwaveringly supports the LGBTQ+ community. Local store leaders and employees can make their own decorating decisions within the guidelines set forth in the safety and security manuals.
In response to the strike promises, the company added: “Workers United continues to spread false information about our benefits, policies and bargaining efforts, a tactic used to seemingly divide our partners and divert their non-response to bargaining sessions during more than 200 years. stories.»
In a post on your websiteStarbucks shared a June 14 letter from its vice president of member resources, May Jensen, to Workers United president Lynne Fox, demanding that the union «stop knowingly misleading members.»
Workers United has alleged cases in at least 22 states where workers have been unable to decorate, pointing to social media accounts where workers have documented their claims. The union said it filed an unfair labor practice charge against Starbucks for what it alleges is a change in policy. Some of the strikes in the coming days are linked to that claim.
Not all of the stores going on strike had problems related to Pride decorations.
Parker Davis, a 21-year-old barista from San Antonio, Texas, he works at a store that hasn’t had disputes over Pride decor but will be part of the strikes.
“There is a large percentage of partners in my store who are part of the LGBTQ community and who feel that Starbucks’ continued actions to try to limit or remove pride decorations just don’t make sense with what the company has done in the past. . Davis said.
Davis told CNBC that he expects several pickets, but said it was unclear if the store would be able to open during the strike.
The public back and forth on decorations to celebrate Pride month comes with major brands including Aim and outbreak of light have come under fire for supporting the LGBTQ community. In both cases, the companies faced opposition from conservative consumers to associations or marketing to transgender people, and then saw a backlash from more liberal customers over perceived deference to critics.
In Oklahoma, workers were told the restrictions on decorating were out of concern for safety after recent attacks on Aim stores, the union said.
Starbucks workers are also on strike over claims that Starbucks is slow to negotiate contracts.
“Good faith bargaining appears to be both sides offering proposals and trying to meet in the middle – Starbucks is not willing to do that,” Workers United said in a statement. “Despite having our non-financial proposals for over 8 months and our financial proposals for over a month, Starbucks has failed to tentatively accept a single line of a single proposal or provide a single counter-proposal. What Starbucks is doing is not haggling, it’s stagnating.»
The strike “is important to me because it sends the message that we are not going to stand idly by while Starbucks continues to delay contract negotiations and continues to engage in union busting,” Davis said.
For its part, Starbucks maintains that Workers United has responded to only a quarter of the more than 450 bargaining sessions that Starbucks has proposed for individual stores nationwide to date, and said it is committed to advancing negotiations toward a first contract.
The roastery where the strikes will begin on Friday has not had disputes over the Pride decorations, but is also holding a solidarity strike.
“The roastery wants to show solidarity with all the workers who have been discriminated against at the company,” Mari Cosgrove, a 28-year-old barista at the Seattle location, told CNBC.
“Frankly, it feels like an attack when these flags are taken down,” Cosgrove said. “The members of these stores really appreciate being able to be seen and feel like this is a community space for them. Starbucks really prides itself on being a third place, even to its workers.»
More than 300 company-owned stores have voted to unionize since the first filing was filed in August 2021, but Starbucks and Workers United have yet to agree to a contract.
Starbucks has more than 9,000 company-owned locations across the US.
Amelia Lucas, CNBC contributed.