Starbucks Corp. CEO Howard Schultz stated that the coffee company intends to close more stores due to safety concerns.
Starbucks is closing stores that are “not unprofitable,” according to Schultz, due to an increase in safety-related issues such as crime, homelessness, and drug use in restrooms. Due to security concerns, the company previously announced plans to close 16 locations.
“This is just the beginning,” Schultz said, “and there will be many more.” “It astounded me that one of our retail partners’ primary concerns is their own personal safety.”
Starbucks previously announced plans to close stores in Portland, Oregon, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Washington.
Workers involved in unionization efforts claim that the closures are an attempt to deter workers from organising. Starbucks Workers United, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment, claims that over 180 locations have voted to unionise.
Two of the 16 locations set to close recently voted to unionise, and another in Portland was set to vote in August, according to In These Times on July 14.
Starbucks employees in Ithaca, New York, accused the Seattle-based company in June of closing the store in retaliation for the recently organised location. Starbucks has denied the allegation and has repeatedly stated that it respects workers’ right to unionise and follows labour laws.
Employees in good standing can transfer to neighbouring locations at stores that are permanently closed, according to an email from the company. Starbucks stated that it will communicate with the union to discuss potential store transfers.
The company has promised to provide more safety training to employees, clarify safety procedures such as when to call 911, and change store formats and layouts. According to a letter posted on the company website, the measures include “closing a restroom, or even permanently closing a store” where safety is no longer possible.