Starbucks Workers United is helping organize a planned series of strikes at more than 150 Starbucks stores, both to protest alleged restrictions against putting up pride decorations at dozens of U.S. stores as well as to call for negotiations for an official contract with the union. The action, called Strike with Pride, is expected to include support from more than 3,000 workers across the company.
The week-long action was kicked off by a strike at the Seattle Roastery, Starbucks’ flagship store in Seattle. The first day reportedly included protests in New York City as well, according to Reuters.
“Starbucks is scared of the power that their queer partners hold, and they should be,” said Moe Mills, a Shift Supervisor at the Richmond Heights, Mo., Starbucks store 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 “Their choice to align themselves with other corporations that have withdrawn their ‘support’ of the queer community in the time we need it most shows that they are not the inclusive company they promote themselves to be.”
However, Starbucks denies that it has backed down on its long-held commitment. “We unwaveringly support the LGBTQIA2+ community,” said a Starbucks spokesperson in a statement sent to Reuters. “It would be inaccurate to report that Starbucks stores are banning any decorations as there has been no change to company policy on this matter.”
Corporations’ dedication to LGBTQ+ rights has come under question after Target made the decision to remove selected Pride Month collection items from some stores in response to threats to its associates’ safety. Organizations including the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), GLAAD, GLSEN and Family Equality called on Target to reaffirm its commitment, and some activists have called on other retailers to do the same.
Earlier in June, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli wrote to Target, Starbucks and other companies in which the state’s public pension funds are invested to ask how they will support LGBTQ+ employees and address legislation that may affect their bottom lines.
Starbucks reportedly was the first company to respond by reiterating its inclusive policies and showing a timeline dating back to 1988, when it began offering full health benefits to same-sex domestic partners, according to a letter seen by Reuters.