Starbucks workers at 150 stores plan Pride decor strike

Starbucks workers at more than 150 stores plan to strike starting Friday, alleging workers in dozens of locations have been restricted from putting up Pride decorations, a claim the company has denied.

“Starbucks is afraid of the power its gay partners hold, and they should be,” Moe Mills, a shift manager from Richmond Heights, Mo., said in a statement.

Starbucks Workers United said the week-long walkout involving more than 3,000 workers will begin Friday, from the company’s flagship store in Seattle. The union alleges the Pride decoration episodes are just the latest examples of retaliation against workers, including blocking workers’ access to benefits and firing an employee.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Starbucks spokeswoman Rachel Wall accused the union of spreading false information and called the strike “a tactic used to seemingly divide our partners.”

“We apologize to our customers who may experience any inconvenience at these locations,” she added.

Last week, the union accused regional Starbucks executives and store managers of blocking workers from putting up Pride flags and other decor honoring LGBTQ+ rights. The organization quoted workers saying they had been banned or restricted from putting on decorations, along with texts and a memo appearing to show managers there had been regional guidelines for stores to adhere to. a “more consistent experience”. The communications could not be independently verified by The Post.

The union says it is not alleging such actions were the result of “top-down national corporate policy,” but added in a statement to the Post that it is “very difficult to believe that the company was “unaware” of the actions because the alleged instances of it happening were so widespread.

Lexi Rizzo fought to unionize her Starbucks.

Starbucks has vehemently denied the allegations, saying that for decades it has supported LGBTQ+ workers through policies such as “gender transition guidelines” and adding gender reassignment surgery to health benefits. the company. Additionally, Wall said the company has long had a policy of empowering “partner celebrations and recognizing a variety of heritage months.”

When asked if store managers and regional leaders could have acted independently of company guidelines, Wall replied, “When it comes to in-store displays, partners and store management continue to find ways to authentically celebrate with their diverse communities throughout the year within our safety standards. , signage policies and dress code.

“Any partner concerns reported on this are taken seriously and are escalated for management review and action,” she added in an email.

Starbucks and workers fighting to unionize have been locked in a battle — a battle that prompted the company’s founder and former chief executive, Howard Schultz, to testify about his company’s alleged union busting before a panel. of Congress in March. Schultz denied having been involved in decisions to fire or sanction union organizers, while saying he had no involvement in the closing of unionized stores.

That testimony came just weeks after a federal administrative law judge found that Starbucks had committed “gross and widespread” violations of federal labor law in its efforts to shut down labor campaigns.

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