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More than 3,000 employees at over 150 Starbucks stores set to strike

Starbucks pride strike
Starbucks Workers United is striking over Starbucks' Pride response (image: Starbucks Workers United Twitter page).

The Starbucks Workers United Union says its members are ready to strike over LGBTQ+-related issues.

According to the union’s official Twitter page, member employees at the Starbucks Roastery location in Seattle are taking the lead in a strike that will unfold over the next week and ultimately involve around 3,500 workers in more than 150 stores nationwide.

The union says that the strike is in response to Starbucks’ “hypocrisy” regarding LGBTQ+-related issues, specifically alleged banning of Pride decorations in many stores nationwide. On its Twitter page, the union posted what it says is an internal Starbucks memo claiming there has been no change to the company’s guidance on in-store Pride decorations.

However, the memo states that local store leaders can autonomously decide how Pride is observed in their stores, and the union says that many store managers have issued bans on decorations.

In a post on its corporate website, Starbucks refutes what it says are Starbucks Workers United’s efforts to “knowingly, and recklessly, spread false information related to our inclusive culture and benefits — actions that risk marginalizing and instilling distrust among our LGBTQIA2+ partners and customers. 

The post goes on to say that more than 9,300 U.S. company-owned Starbucks stores are celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, and offers links to buy a range of custom Starbucks Pride merchandise.

“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,” Starbucks said in a statement to CNBC.

According to CNBC, Starbucks Workers United says there have been incidents in stores located in at least 22 states where employees were not allowed to post Pride decorations. The union said it has filed an unfair labor practice charge against Starbucks in response. Some stores where employees are planning to strike are doing so as a result of this claim, rather than any specific incidents regarding Pride decorations occurring there.

Target modifies Pride celebration at stores

In May 2023, in response to what it called “volatile circumstances,” including threats to its employees’ safety, Target said it was adjusting its plans to celebrate Pride month in June, including removing items that have been "at the center of the most significant confrontational behavior.” 

Transgender issues have become one of the country’s most divisive issues in the ongoing culture wars and state legislatures have introduced a record number of bills targeting LGBTQ+ individuals.

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