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LGBTQ Nation: Baristas will strike after Starbucks managers allegedly cancel Pride


A regional manager for more than 100 Starbucks locations in Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma reportedly shut down Pride displays after “consulting with upper leadership,” according to an email obtained by More Perfect Union, a union advocacy non-profit. In response to this, more than 3,500 Starbucks workers in 150 store locations are expected to go on strike in the coming week.

“I know there has been some concerns around not decorating for Pride this year,” one store manager in Oklahoma City wrote to staff via email earlier this month. “The decision was made last year on a regional level to create consistency from store to store.”

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“The guidance is not being followed,” wrote one executive producer.

The order forbade Starbucks in those southern states from putting up Pride decorations inside of stores.

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According to the email obtained by More Perfect Union, the Oklahoma City manager suggested baristas could decorate a small chalkboard outside their location instead.

In the past, employees in the three-state region were paid to decorate their stores with Pride displays, with the company footing the bill.

In May, the Oklahoma City store manager ordered staff to throw out decorations in storage at the location at the regional manager’s request.

According to a Starbucks union leader, the regional manager in the area was consulting with higher-ups, though they didn’t explain who.

Starbucks company leadership has denied any change in their “unwavering support” of the LGBTQ+ community.

“We’re deeply concerned by false information that is being spread especially as it relates to our inclusive store environments, our company culture and the benefits we offer our partners,” Starbucks spokesperson Andrew Trull said last week.

That assertion stands in contrast to the regional manager’s admission.

“Andrew Trull’s statement is inconsistent with what the Area 120 Regional Manager said, which was that he personally made a decision to eliminate store decorations after ‘consulting with upper leadership,’” said Collin Pollitt, a barista at the Oklahoma City store.

Workers at stores in other regions claim they’ve experienced the same Pride Month censorship.

“We were instructed not to hang any of our Pride flags by order of our district manager claiming it is a company-wide thing,” Damon Schnur, an employee in Ohio, told Insider.

In Wisconsin, a staffer said his district manager told him, “No store is allowed to have Pride decor anymore, as it doesn’t fit Starbucks’ current vision for appearance.”

“Pride flags aren’t welcoming to everyone and might be offensive,” the staffer said he was told.

A manager in the Midwest said her district boss told her, “We are not allowed to have any decorations that are not Starbucks brand, period. Which included things like Pride flags.”

“This latest move to remove Pride from Starbucks feels like a slap in the face coming from a company that lured many members of the community into its ranks by claiming support,” Riley Alexander, a barista in Arkansas told More Perfect Union. “Starbucks has offered us a place at the table just to pull the chair from under us as we sat down.”

Starbucks Workers United sent a letter to the company on June 9th, with a request to bargain over the unilateral changes. They demanded the return of Pride decorations and paid time to decorate stores.

But the company is standing by its claim that there’s been “no change to any policy on this matter.”

On Friday, the union announced workers in the Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma region and other locations, including Starbucks’ flagship store in Seattle, plan to strike next week for the right to display their Pride.

More than 150 Starbucks stores across the country with 3,500 staffers will stop work.

STRIKE WITH PRIDE! Seattle Roastery leads nationwide Starbucks strike over Starbucks’ hypocritical treatment of LGBTQIA+ workers. Over 150+ stores and 3,500 workers will be on strike over the course of the next week.

— Starbucks Workers United (@SBWorkersUnited) June 23, 2023

300 Starbucks locations, out of more than 9000 in the U.S., have voted to unionize since 2021.

Starbucks says they’ve apologized in advance to customers who “may experience an inconvenience” at locations with striking workers, and urged them to use the Starbucks app to find open stores with non-union employees.

LGBTQ Nation contacted Starbucks for a comment.

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