Thousands of Starbucks baristas to strike amid Pride decorations row

Several thousand Starbucks workers are set to strike next week amid a dispute with the coffee giant over LGBTQ store displays during Pride month.

Starbucks Workers United, the group leading efforts to unionize Starbucks workers, tweeted Friday that more than 150 stores and 3,500 workers “will be on strike over the next week” over the company’s “treatment of queer and trans workers.”

Workers at Starbucks’ flagship store, the Seattle Roastery, went on strike Friday, with dozens of pickets outside.

Earlier this month, the collective accused Starbucks of banning Pride Month displays in some of its stores.

“In union stores, where Starbucks claims it is unable to make ‘unilateral changes’ without negotiation, the company took down Pride decorations and flags anyway — ignoring their own anti-union talking point.” tweeted on June 13.

In a statement provided to CBS News Friday, a Starbucks spokesperson vehemently denied the allegations, saying that “Workers United continues to spread false information about our benefits, policies and bargaining efforts, a tactic used to seemingly divide our partners and divert from their inability to respond to negotiation meetings for more than 200 stores.”

In a letter sent last week to Workers United, May Jensen, Starbucks vice president of partner resources, expressed the company’s “unwavering support” for the “LGBTQIA2+ community,” adding that “there has been no change in any company policy on this matter and we continues to empower retail leaders to celebrate with their communities, including US Pride month in June.”

Since workers at a Starbucks store in Buffalo, New York, was the first to vote for unionization in late 2021, Starbucks has been accused of illegally trying to thwart such efforts across the country. To date, at least 330 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize, according to Workers United, but none have reached a collective agreement with the company.

Judges have ruled that Starbucks repeatedly violated labor laws, including by firing pro-union workers, interrogating them and threatening to withdraw benefits if employees organized, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

In March, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz also denied the allegations when grilled about them during a public Senate hearing.

“These are allegations,” Schultz said at the time. “These will be proven untrue.”

— Irina Ivanova and Caitlin O’Kane contributed to this report.

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