June 26, 2023: Some organized Starbucks stores will strike across the U.S. starting Friday in Seattle after the coffee giant and the union representing baristas publicly clashed over claims that the company was not allowing Pride month decor in cafes.
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 dozens of U.S. stores were not allowing employees to decorate for Pride month, accusations that suggested a wave of backlash against LGBTQ+ inclusion had reached a perceived liberal bastion in corporate America. Starbucks said it had yet to revise its guidelines for store decorations.
“There has been no change to any policy on this matter, and we continue to encourage our store leaders to celebrate with their communities, including for U.S. Pride month in June,” the company said last week, adding that it unwaveringly supports the LGBTQ+ community. Local store leaders and employees can make their own decorating decisions within guidelines laid out in the company’s security and safety manuals.
In response to the strike pledges, the company added, “Workers United continues to spread false information about our benefits, policies, and negotiation efforts—a tactic used to seemingly divide our partners and deflect from their failure to respond to bargaining sessions for more than 200 stores.”
In a post on its website, Starbucks shared a June 14 letter from its VP of Partner Resources, May Jensen, to Workers United President Lynne Fox, demanding the union “cease from knowingly misleading partners.”
Workers United has alleged instances in at least 22 states when workers have not been able to decorate, pointing to social media accounts where workers have documented their claims. The union said it had filed an unfair labor practice charge against Starbucks over what it alleges is a policy change. Some of the strikes in the coming days are tied to that claim.
Not all stores that will strike have issues related to Pride decor.