UNITED STATES: Over 3,000 workers at more than 150 Starbucks locations throughout the United States will take a week off of work, the union that represents the coffee chain’s baristas stated on Friday, following claims that the company forbade Pride Month displays at some of its cafes.
The strikes are also meant to put pressure on the company to enter into fair labour agreements for higher salaries and benefits, the organisation Starbucks Workers United further added. The firm has not yet entered into any collective bargaining agreements at its freshly unionised cafes.
Shares of Starbucks, which has about 9,000 company-owned locations in the U.S., plummeted more than 2.5% in broadly weaker markets.
The strike occurs just before a significant weekend for Pride Month celebrations in the United States, with Pride Parades scheduled for Sunday in a number of significant cities, including New York, San Francisco, Seattle, and Chicago.
The union alleges that managers at numerous Starbucks outlets either stopped or ordered employees to take down Pride Month flags and decorations.
Starbucks referred to the charges as “false information” on Friday. It stated that as of the previous week, “no change to any policy on this matter” had occurred, and it continued to encourage store managers to observe Pride Month as long as all store safety regulations were followed.
A number of American retail brands have come under fire from gay rights organisations for their lack of support for the LGBTQ+ community after caving to pressure from the right.
Following conservative pressure, several U.S. retail corporations suffered backlash for displaying LGBTQ+ items, as well as criticism from gay rights groups for providing insufficient support for the community.
American retailer Target was forced to remove some Pride merchandise from shelves following altercations between some customers and store employees, while Anheuser-Busch InBev’s (ABI.BR) efforts to market to the transgender community have resulted in a sharp decline in sales of its Bud Light beer in recent weeks.
Stakeholders are paying attention. Thomas DiNapoli, the comptroller of New York State, wrote to Starbucks, Target, and more than 50 other businesses in which the state’s public pension funds have investments earlier in June.
DiNapoli questioned them about how they were addressing business risks associated with recent attacks on LGBTQ+ equality, including how they were handling state laws that would have an adverse effect on hiring and how they were assisting LGBTQ+ employees.
Starbucks was the first business to respond to DiNapoli. On June 14, it reaffirmed its inclusive policy in a letter to media outlets, showing a timeline that goes back to 1988, when it first started providing same-sex domestic partners with full health coverage.
Starbucks is also the subject of hundreds of complaints at the National Labour Relations Board regarding its alleged illegal practices, including dismissing union activists and closing outlets during labour campaigns. Since late 2021, employees at more than 300 American retailers have chosen to unionise.
Starbucks Workers United announced on Friday that the firm’s flagship Seattle Roaster was starting the nationwide strike, called “Strike with Pride.”