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Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz arrives at Investor Day

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz arrives at Investor Day at Starbucks Headquarters in Seattle, Washington on September 13, 2022. (Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Outrage as Starbucks Moves to Close First Unionized Shop in Its Home City of Seattle

"Starbucks and Howard Schultz believe they are above the law. They believe they can do whatever they want and get away with it," said Starbucks Workers United. "This is unacceptable and will not stand."

Jake Johnson

Starbucks announced late Monday that it will soon shutter yet another unionized location—this time the Seattle shop that was the first to unionize in the coffee giant's home city.

While Starbucks said in a statement that the planned closure is due to "safety and security" concerns, workers and union representatives characterized the decision as clearly retaliatory given the Broadway East and Denny Way's status as the first organized shop in the city where Starbucks was founded and is currently headquartered.

"Starbucks and [billionaire CEO] Howard Schultz believe they are above the law. They believe they can do whatever they want and get away with it," Starbucks Workers United wrote on Twitter. "This is unacceptable and will not stand."

"They can fire us, shut down our stores, send whatever messages they want to us, but WE'RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE."

December 9 is the final day before the store will be closed to the public. As Starbucks Workers United Seattle pointed out, that is the one-year anniversary of the first-ever Starbucks union victory in Buffalo, New York last year.

The Broadway and Denny location is one of several unionized stores in Seattle that Starbucks has moved to shut down in recent months as the company continues its relentless anti-union campaign across the country, drawing accusations of mass labor law violations and legal action from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

"On the average month between April and September, the union filed 43 [unfair labor practice] charges, more than one per day," Matt Bruenig of the People's Policy Project noted earlier this month. "The charges generally allege that Starbucks has engaged in retaliation against workers attempting to unionize."

More than 260 Starbucks locations have voted to unionize since last year, but not a single store has secured a contract as management and its anti-union Littler Mendelson attorneys engage in common stalling tactics and abruptly walk out of sessions before any real bargaining can begin.

Last week, thousands of unionized Starbucks workers from hundreds of stores across the country walked off the job to protest management's refusal to bargain in good faith and ongoing punishment of union organizers, which has led the NLRB to ask a federal court for a nationwide cease-and-desist order against the company.

Casey Moore, a Buffalo barista and a member of the National Starbucks Workers United Communications Committee, tweeted late Monday that "what Howard Schultz fundamentally misunderstands about this movement is that we are a fucking hydra."

"Cut down one of us, and there's five new workers to take their place," Moore wrote. "They can fire us, shut down our stores, send whatever messages they want to us, but WE'RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE. Nowhere. Not until we win a goddamn contract and hold this company accountable for every last worker they fired and every last store they closed."

Starbucks denies that its recent store closures had anything to do with unionization, but workers say a significant percentage of the stores shuttered were in the process of organizing. In August, Starbucks Workers United said that 42% of the stores the company closed in the preceding months were engaged in union activity.

Last month, Starbucks shut down the first unionized store in Colorado Springs a day before the date that the union had requested for the first bargaining session.

Earlier this month, Starbucks announced the closure of a Portland, Maine location that was the second store to unionize in the state.


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