Marion Bae, FISM News
In the latest string of news regarding companies fleeing Democrat-run cities, Starbucks has announced that they will be closing 16 locations in Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. due to safety concerns as violent crime and drug use rise.
Regarding the news of these closures, a spokesperson for Starbucks told Business Insider, “After careful consideration, we are closing some stores in locations that have experienced a high volume of challenging incidents that make it unsafe to continue to operate, to open new locations with safer conditions.”
Starbucks released a message to their partners on Monday regarding safety in their stores, authored by the senior vice presidents of U.S. operations Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson.
The letter states, “You’re also seeing firsthand the challenges facing our communities–personal safety, racism, lack of access to healthcare, a growing mental health crisis, rising drug use, and more. With stores in thousands of communities across the country, we know these challenges can, at times, play out within our stores too. We read every incident report you file – it’s a lot.”
The letter states that Starbucks doesn’t believe their partners can serve customers if they don’t feel safe. They list their plans for policies to address these safety issues, which include “modifying operations, closing a restroom, or even closing a store permanently, where safety in the third place is no longer possible.”
Stroud and Nelson went on in their message to assure their partners that they will have the ability to transfer to nearby stores if their store closes. However, some employees are not happy with this.
Mari Cosgrove, an employee from one of the closing Seattle locations, said, “We think it is not fair that we were not allowed to be a part of this decision about our working conditions, nor for Starbucks to claim they could not provide a safe experience for our workplace.”
Starbucks could have a bigger fight on its hands than individual disgruntled employees, as there has been a recent push to unionize in Starbucks stores. Currently, over 189 U.S locations have moved to unionize.
They are represented by Starbucks Workers United, who announced Monday on Twitter, “Starting today, after months of investigating, the Labor Board is prosecuting @Starbucks for over 200 violations of labor law in Western NY ALONE.”
While the union has not released a statement on the current closings, they did retweet another user, who criticized the company for the closings, insinuating the issue of safety was just an excuse.
So let me get this straight: Starbucks is closing EIGHT stores in the PNW, citing “crime” as the reasoning. When in actuality, they’re union-busting by shutting down POC and queer-centric locations that are pro-union? I hope Howard likes subpoenas! #NoContractNoCoffee
— Billie (@venusdeathtrapp) July 12, 2022
While they can speculate on the company’s true motives for the closures, the fact that crime has gone up in these areas is undeniable. Data shows, that violent crime in Seattle was up 20% from 2020 to 2021, according to the 2021 Year-End Crime Report published by the Seattle Police Department.
The increases came predominantly from aggravated assaults and robbery.
The issue of closing a restroom, while it may seem benign, has a complex history for Starbucks. In 2018 Starbucks announced that they would be allowing everyone, nonpaying patrons included, to use their restrooms at any location.
This came after an incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks, where the police were called on two black men who asked to use the restroom without making a purchase, and reportedly refused to leave.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz spoke at the DealBook D.C. Policy Forum last week. There he addressed the issue of the restrooms and said the decision was due to a safety issue, saying “We have to harden our stores and provide safety for our people.”