Starbucks has been accused of closing two stores as punishment for staff unionizing.
The coffee giant has denied claims the stores in Kansas and Seattle are closing because of union activities and say the closures are down to safety concerns.
It stated that the Seattle location, where employees voted to unionize in April, will close and reopen as a licensed location by a neighboring grocery store.
Starbucks will negotiate with the union to reach an agreement that will allow employees to move to other stores.
Starbucks said: “We continue to evaluate the partner and customer experience at all of our stores as a regular course of business.”
It added that the move would further strengthen the location’s relationship with grocery store shoppers.
Around 200 of Starbucks’ 9,000 US stores have voted to unionize.
Under interim CEO Howard Schultz, Starbucks has been working on its reinvention and emphasizing priorities like store safety and career development opportunities for employees.
Starbucks closed more than a dozen stores due to safety concerns as part of that effort, most of which were on the West Coast.
Personal safety, mental health, and drug usage were included in a letter issued to staff last month.
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But the union claims that some closures are for reasons other than safety, citing a list of 19 Starbucks stores that have closed or are shutting, eight of which have unionized, filed, or begun to organize.
Starbucks Workers United said: “If Starbucks was serious about solving safety issues, they could work with partners and our union.
“Instead, Schultz and Starbucks have sent a message loud and clear — complain about safety, and we’ll close your store.”
Starbucks’ new steps come after the firm demanded the National Labor Relations Board postpone all mail-in ballot union elections at its stores nationwide.
It has accused voters in the Kansas City area, and likely elsewhere, of engaging in inappropriate conduct during the voting process.
The company mentioned a whistleblower who alerted them about the voting procedure and requested that elections be halted until an inquiry was completed.