Starbucks Workers United slams corporate crackdown on Pride Month

Starbucks Workers United is once again speaking out against anti-union retaliation after the coffee company reportedly banned workers in many stores from putting up Pride decorations.

Starbucks workers have taken to social media to speak out against bans on Pride decorations in the coffee chain's stores.
Starbucks workers have taken to social media to speak out against bans on Pride decorations in the coffee chain's stores.  © MICHAEL M. SANTIAGO / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

Despite casting itself as a progressive and LGBTQ+-friendly company, Starbucks has reportedly required workers in many of its stores to remove decorations put up in celebration of Pride Month.

For Starbucks Workers United, many of whose leaders are LGBTQ+, the ban represents yet another effort to quash their growing union movement.

Earlier this month, baristas filed a labor charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) accusing the company of prohibiting Pride decorations at unionized stores in Oklahoma City while refusing to bargain with workers about the decision.

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Dozens of videos and reports have filled social media in recent weeks documenting similar experiences from workers in stores around the country.

Starbucks union calls on the company to be a "true ally"

Starbucks Workers United members are calling on the coffee company to bargain in good faith for a union contract.
Starbucks Workers United members are calling on the coffee company to bargain in good faith for a union contract.  © JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Starbucks Workers United said employees are being given a variety of reasons for the ban on Pride symbols, ranging from a lack of "labor hours" for decoration to a desire for uniformity across cafés to fears over the attacks on Pride displays in Target stores.

For workers who identify as LGBTQ+, the new prohibitions threaten the safe space they once enjoyed in their stores.

"Starbucks making us take down our pride flag feels like a blatant and tone-deaf act of disrespect and harm toward me, my coworkers, and the LGBTQIA+ community," Meghin Martin, a Starbucks worker in Richmond, Virginia, said in a press release.

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"When corporate ordered our pride flag to be ripped down this year, Starbucks showed their true colors. Partners felt unsafe, they felt attacked, and they felt like the company was taking a page out of the right wing reactionary's playbook," added Shenby G., an employee in Columbus, Ohio.

"Trans and Queer workers make Starbucks run, and by taking down our flag and refusing to bargain with us for a fair contract, the company is showing that they will put profit, and themselves, over the workers."

Workers demands the company negotiate in good faith

Starbucks Workers United has responded to the growing outrage by once again urging the company to negotiate with them in good faith and grant workers a seat at the table when it comes to decisions affecting their workplaces.

"Starbucks claims to be a true ally but they refuse to stand up for workers, especially during a time when LGBTQIA+ people are under attack," the union said.

"True allyship with the LGBTQIA+ community is negotiating a union contract with the 320+ stores that have won their union, that legally locks-in our benefits, our freedom of expression, and our ways to hold management accountable."

Cover photo: JUSTIN SULLIVAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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