The strike is expected to continue through the last Friday in June.
Last Friday, a union organizing Starbucks workers started a week-long strike to protest alleged unfair labor practices by the Seattle-based coffee giant. Earlier this month, Starbucks Workers United alleged that Starbucks would not allow its workers to put up Pride decorations or displays in its stores, which it called an “anti-union campaign to intimidate workers and make them feel unwelcome in their workplace.”
Starbucks Workers United said that their ongoing “Strike With Pride” protest closed 21 Starbucks locations over the weekend, including its Reserve Roastery in Seattle. The strike will continue through this Friday, and the union says that it will affect operations at more than 150 Starbucks stores.
“Starbucks is scared of the power that their queer partners hold, and they should be,” Moe Mills, a Starbucks shift supervisor from Missouri, said. Their choice to align themselves with other corporations that have withdrawn their ‘support’ of the queer community in the time we need it most shows that they are not the inclusive company they promote themselves to be. We’re striking with pride to show the public who Starbucks really is, and to let them know we’re not going anywhere.”
Starbucks has denied removing any Pride merchandise or decorations from its stores. A spokesperson for the chain told Food & Wine that its store managers “remain empowered to decorate their stores” for all heritage months, including Pride month.
Related: Serving Up Pride: Working In Restaurants Freed Me to Live the Life I Choose
“We want to be crystal clear — Starbucks has been and will continue to be at the forefront of supporting the LGBTQIA2+ community, and we will not waver in that commitment,” Starbucks CEO Laxman Narasimhan wrote on Friday. “Despite public commentary, there has been no change to any of our policies as it relates to our inclusive store environments, our company culture and the benefits we offer our partners. We continue to encourage our store leaders to celebrate with their communities including for U.S. Pride month in June, as we always have.”
In what feels like a direct response to Starbucks Workers United’s allegations, Narasimhan added that the chain “strongly disapproves” of any group “seeking to use our partners’ cultural and heritage celebrations to create harm or flagrantly advance misinformation for self-interested goals.”
On Monday, Starbucks North America President Sara Trilling sent a memo to employees that echoed Narasimhan’s comments. “We have heard from our partners that you want to be creative in how our stores are represented and that you see visual creativity in stores as part of who we are and our culture,” Trilling wrote in the memo, which was seen by Food & Wine. “Equally, we have also heard through our partner channels that there is a need for clarity and consistency on current guidelines around visual displays and decorations.”
Starbucks has also filed two complaints against Starbucks Workers United with the National Labor Relations Board, both of them alleging false and misleading claims.
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