Thousands of employees have vowed to walk out in protest of alleged bans on LGBTQ-themed decorations
Around 3,500 Starbucks employees plan to go on strike in the next week after the company allegedly banned them from displaying ‘Pride Month’ decorations at some of its US stores.
The Starbucks Workers United union announced the move on Friday, saying it would involve walkouts at more than 150 outlets across the US. The group claimed that the coffee retailer took down displays supporting LGBTQ causes in dozens of Starbucks stores.
“Starbucks is scared of the power that their queer partners hold, and they should be,” the union said in a statement. “Their choice to align themselves with other corporations that have withdrawn their support of the queer community in the time we need it most shows that they are not the inclusive company that they promote themselves to be.”
We’re striking with pride to show the public who Starbucks really is and to let them know we’re not going anywhere.”
Seattle-based Starbucks denied that it had banned Pride Month displays, saying there had been no change in its policy on the matter and that its support for LGBTQ causes was “unwavering.” The company has long touted its progressive corporate culture, pointing to such policies as extending health insurance benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees in 1988 and expanding coverage to include sex-change surgeries in 2013.
However, the union said Starbucks managers told workers at many US locations that Pride Month decorations were a safety concern. The retailer said it was still encouraging store managers to celebrate the LGBTQ event as long as safety guidelines were followed.
Major US brands, including Bud Light beer and Target, have faced public backlash in recent weeks over their LGBTQ-themed promotions, wiping out billions of dollars in market value. Target removed some of its Pride Month merchandise and moved decorations from the front of some stores after customers reportedly knocked down some displays and posted threatening videos on social media.
Starbucks employees have voted to unionize at 330 stores nationwide since December 2021. The chain has nearly 17,500 shops in North America and aims to have 45,000 outlets worldwide by the end of next year.
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The union’s Twitter profile features a rainbow-themed version of its logo, captioned with the words “Be gay and organize.”
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