Starbucks is closing 16 stores over safety concerns

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“After careful consideration, we are closing some stores in locations that have experienced a large number of challenging incidents that make it unsafe to continue operating,” a spokesman for CNN Business said in an email.

The stores are in Seattle; Los Angeles; Philadelphia; Washington, DC and Portland, Oregon. They will be closed until the end of July.

in one Monday letter to employeesDebbie Stroud and Denise Nelson, both senior vice presidents of US operations, discussed safety in Starbucks stores.

Employees “are seeing firsthand the challenges facing our communities — personal safety, racism, lack of access to health care, a growing mental health crisis, rising drug use and more,” they wrote, adding, “with stores in the thousands.” From communities across the country, we know that sometimes these challenges can also occur in our stores.”

Stroud and Nelson said they “read every incident report you file,” adding, “It’s a lot.”

To make workers feel safer in stores, the company offers active rifleman training and other types of training, they wrote.

It also offers mental health benefits, access to abortion treatments, clarity around shifts and business policies and more, the letter said. The Company may also close restrooms to the public, thereby a 2018 Policy.

In cases where it is not possible to create a safe environment in a store, Starbucks will close it permanently, the letter said. In these cases, the company relocates employees to neighboring stores.

A new era for Starbucks

The steps are part of a broader enterprise transformation effort, as outlined in a Monday letter from Schultz.

“We need to reinvent Starbucks for the future,” he wrote, noting that the company needs to “radically” improve the employee experience. He added that based on employee feedback, the company will strive to bring “safety, hospitality and friendliness to our businesses.”

Schultz stepped into the CEO role for the third time in April. Over the past few months, he has spent time with employees, listening to their concerns and gathering feedback. He also worked to discourage workers from unionizing, urging workers to stay away from unions even before he officially returned to the company as CEO.

But the union drive to organize has only grown.

As of June 24, the NLRB has certified unions at 133 Starbucks stores employing more than 3,400 hourly workers them and upheld decisions against unionization in 15 locations. Elections are underway in dozens of other stores.

Starbucks is allowed to close its restrooms to the public again
Despite the pro-union voices, unionized stores make up only a fraction of Starbucks’ approximately 9,000 company-operated stores in the United States. But Starbucks has made it clear that it does not want employees to join a union and does not guarantee any specific benefits to those who do.
In a tweet, Starbucks Workers United Seattle questioned the decision to close one of its Seattle locations was created to the best of our knowledge and belief.
And in June, Starbucks workers at a store in Ithaca, New York, claimed their location was being closed in retaliation for their union activism. The workers’ committee said at the time it was filing a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging unfair labor practices, claiming that Starbucks was making a “clear attempt to scare workers across the country.”

A company spokesman said at the time that Starbucks was opening and closing stores as part of its regular operations, without giving specific reasons.

“Our local, regional and national leaders have worked with humility, great care and urgency to create the type of store environment that partners and customers have come to expect from Starbucks,” the Starbucks spokesman said in June. “Our goal is to ensure that each partner is supported in their individual situation and that we have immediate opportunities in the market.”

— Chris Isidore and Ramishah Maruf of CNN Business contributed to this report.

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