Last Updated on July 13, 2022
Starbucks announced that it would be closing 16 locations across the U.S. The coffee giant cited safety concerns in its decision to close the locations, all of which are located in high crime areas.
Starbucks will be closing six stores in its home city of Seattle, two in Portland, Oregon, six in Los Angeles and one each in Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. The soon-to-be closing Starbucks locations have documented issues with drug use and threats to staff members, prompting the decision.
Employees at the condemned stores will have the opportunity to transfer to a different location, Starbucks said,
In a letter to employees, Starbucks’ senior vice presidents of operations Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson said the company’s stores aren’t immune from problems like rising drug use and a spike in crime. “We know these challenges can, at times, play out within our stores too. We read every incident report you file — it’s a lot,” Stroud and Nelson wrote.
The company has received criticism from staff for providing no options beyond closing the store. “We think it is not fair that we were not allowed to be a part of this decision about our working conditions, nor for Starbucks to claim they could not provide a safe experience for our workplace,” said Mari Cosgrove, an employee at one of the Seattle stores that is closing.
The closures come as a wave of unionization has swept the company. 189 Starbucks locations have opted to unionize since last year, according to the National Labor Relations Board. The company opposes unionization efforts.
Two of the Seattle stores that are closing have voted to unionize, while one of the Portland stores has petitioned to hold a union vote. Last month, Starbucks also closed a unionized store in Ithaca, New York, because of operational problems, including an overflowing grease trap, according to Fox 29.
In 2018, Starbucks subjected its entire staff to “racial equity training” after the manager of a Philadelphia Starbucks asked two black men to leave the store. When they refused to leave, police were called, and the two men were arrested for trespassing.
Despite the fact that the men did not buy anything, the manager was branded as a racist while Starbucks opened its restrooms to the public.
In announcing the closure of the locations, Starbucks signaled that it is having second thoughts on the policy. Locations will now have the option to close their restrooms if they become safety hazards, or havens for drug users.