Editor-June 24th, 2023.
More than 3,000 Starbucks employees in over 150 locations in the United States are expected to go on strike over the next week after the union accused the vendor of expensive coffee drinks of not allowing their employees in dozens of stores to decorate for Pride month.
Pride month is a month, typically June, dedicated to celebration and commemoration of pride in being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transexual.
Starbucks completely denies the allegations, says it has made no change in its policy allowing Pride month decorations, and maintains that these disputes are a local matter.
Store leaders are able to decorate stores as they wish for Pride and other heritage months, as long as those decorations adhere to safety guidelines, according to the company. Starbucks said it is not aware of any company-owned stores that have banned Pride decorations. However it does not speak for franchise-owned stores.
Workers from the company’s flagship roastery in Seattle will kick off the strike on Friday. They will also be picketing in front of the café to block deliveries.
Starbucks Workers United, a union representing about 8,000 of the company’s workers, said more stores will be joining over the next several days in cities including Chicago, Philadelphia and San Antonio, in what is considered the longest and biggest strike in the union’s history.
Organizers anticipate that some stores will be temporarily forced to close in response to walkouts. But Starbucks said the company will be offering employees who are not participating in the strike the oppoortunity to sign up for overtime shifts to ensure that the coffee continues to flow.
All this comes as unionized workers and Starbucks are stuck in acrimonious negotiations over the first collective bargaining contracts for stores that voted to unionize over a year ago.
Starbucks Workers United said employees in 21 states have reported they were not allowed to display decorations in honor of Pride month like the rainbow flag, despite having done so in previous years.
In Massachusetts, one worker was told that there was not enough time to decorate the store.
In Oklahoma, a manager cited safety concerns, pointing to the recent confrontations over Pride displays in some Target stores. And in Georgia, some staff were not allowed to decorate because they were told it was unsafe for them to climb up ladders to erect decorations.
Starbucks denied the union’s claims that it had ever asked stores to limit or ban Pride-related decorations, adding that the company itself still offers Pride merchandise for sale at stores.
Decisions about store décor are totally up to regional managers, according to the coffee giant.
Souces: NPR, CNN, BBC.