Starbucks CEO shuts 16 stores citing safety issues but employees claim he’s trying to stop the union

Starbucks CEO shuts 16 stores citing safety issues but employees claim he's trying to stop the union 2
Advertisement

Labor leaders trying to organize Starbucks workers in ‘woke cities’ across the country roasted coffee chain’s CEO Howard Schultz, charging that he’s started a ‘war’ against the union by shuttering 16 cafés because they’re too dangerous to operate.

Advertisement

The brew boss said that ‘America has become unsafe’ in several left-leaning cities across the country and as a result will close its cafes in Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and D.C – where crime rates have soared due to woke policies including police cuts.

Schultz warned that this is ‘just the beginning’ of store closures and said there ‘would be many more’ as staff fear for their own safety amid a rise in crime, homeless and people with mental health issues.

Advertisement

Union organizers with Starbucks Workers United said that the coffee chief has another motivation entirely – to break the union. 

Starbucks CEO shuts 16 stores citing safety issues but employees claim he's trying to stop the union 3

Starbucks workers in Buffalo, New York became the first shop in the company's 50-year history to unionize in the country

Starbucks workers in Buffalo, New York became the first shop in the company’s 50-year history to unionize in the country

‘Every decision Starbucks makes must be viewed through the lens of the company’s unprecedented and virulent union-busting campaign,’ the union said in a statement. ‘It is simply not credible for the company to argue that this was not a response to the growing union movement spreading across the country.’

Advertisement

Starbucks workers in Buffalo, New York became the first shop in the company’s 50-year history to unionize in the country. 

Schultz was previously recorded on an internal Zoom meeting calling unions an ‘outside force that is trying desperately to disrupt the company.’

Advertisement

Two of the Seattle stores and one of the Portland cafés have started to organize workers.

‘Howard Schultz has escalated the war against our union, Starbucks Workers United,’ the labor group said in a statement. ‘Here on our home turf, where we remain undefeated in union elections (13-0), Starbucks is targeting the 4th and Morrison store for closure, citing ‘safety concerns.’ It’s clear to anyone that has worked at Starbucks that the company doesn’t prioritize our safety until it behooves them; that is, they won’t make alterations to store operations until after we have filed for union election and an equal voice in our daily operations.’

However, six of the L.A.-area shops that are scheduled to shutter have not launched a union effort. 

Starbucks officials have been adamant that safety is the underlying concern. 

Advertisement

In two leaked video excerpts of Schultz speaking at an internal meeting, shared by Ari Hoffman of KVI-AM talk radio in Seattle, Schultz said he was shocked to hear that one of the primary concerns of their retail partners is their ‘own personal safety.’

The reported disruptions include drug use by paying customers and, more often than not, members of the public – who often take advantage of the company’s open bathroom policy, which allows nonpaying patrons to use their facilities.

As a result, the bathrooms have in large part devolved into dens of debauchery, regularly used by vagrants and homeless to do drugs and engage in other illicit behavior.

The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, has blamed woke elected leaders for 'abdicating their responsibility' to fight crime in their local areas which has led the chain to shutter more than a dozen stores nationwide (file image)

The CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, has blamed woke elected leaders for ‘abdicating their responsibility’ to fight crime in their local areas which has led the chain to shutter more than a dozen stores nationwide (file image)

Advertisement
Starbucks CEO shuts 16 stores citing safety issues but employees claim he's trying to stop the union 5

Starbucks is closing more than a dozen stores due to reports of rife drug use and disturbances by brazen members of the public at the popular cafés. Pictured is a shuttered store in Portland, Oregon - one of the cities that will see closures - that was ransacked by looters in 2021

Starbucks is closing more than a dozen stores due to reports of rife drug use and disturbances by brazen members of the public at the popular cafés. Pictured is a shuttered store in Portland, Oregon – one of the cities that will see closures – that was ransacked by looters in 2021

The reported disruptions include drug use by paying customers and, more often than not, members of the public - who often take advantage of the company's open bathroom policy, which allows nonpaying patrons to use their facilities. Pictured are homeless people loitering outside a Starbucks in Seattle, which will also experience closures, the company said

The reported disruptions include drug use by paying customers and, more often than not, members of the public – who often take advantage of the company’s open bathroom policy, which allows nonpaying patrons to use their facilities. Pictured are homeless people loitering outside a Starbucks in Seattle, which will also experience closures, the company said

In the leaked video excerpts, Schultz said: ‘In my view at the local, state, and federal level, these governments across the country and leaders, mayors, and governors and city councils have abdicated their responsibility in fighting crime and addressing mental illness.

Advertisement

‘And we’re going to have to refine and transform and modernize many of the things we do to meet the needs of our customers in a very changing operating environment.’

He added that the demand for Starbucks by their customers has ‘never been greater.’

In another short video, Schultz said: ‘I don’t have to spend too much time on what’s going on in the country and how America has become unsafe, but you all read the press release the last couple of days about the fact that we are beginning to close stores that are not unprofitable.’

He added: ‘It has shocked me that one of the primary concerns that our retail partners have is their own personal safety. And then we heard the stories about what happens in our bathrooms, the issues with mental illness, homelessness and crime. 

Advertisement

‘Starbucks is a window into America, we have stores in every community… we are facing things in which the stores were not built for. We’re listening to our people and closing stores, & this is just the beginning. There are going be many more.’

All of the stores set to be closed have seen an influx of crime – with many attributing the rise to a recent wave of ‘woke’ policies implemented by progressive politicians.

Advertisement

The result are cities that border on lawlessness – with employees at the stores reportedly complaining in droves that they feel unsafe at work.

The planned closures, announced Monday, will see 16 stores closed in several cities across the country - all set in left-leaning, 'woke'-run locales such as Los Angeles. Pictured is a homeless person sleeping in front of one of the store's LA locations

The planned closures, announced Monday, will see 16 stores closed in several cities across the country – all set in left-leaning, ‘woke’-run locales such as Los Angeles. Pictured is a homeless person sleeping in front of one of the store’s LA locations

Reports of assaults were also commonplace in the cities set to see closures, which include liberal LA, as well as five other left-leaning municipalities. Pictured is an LA Starbucks. Homeless citizens can be seen sitting outside the store on the street

Reports of assaults were also commonplace in the cities set to see closures, which include liberal LA, as well as five other left-leaning municipalities. Pictured is an LA Starbucks. Homeless citizens can be seen sitting outside the store on the street

What Starbucks CEO said about woke leaders 

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in the leaked video excerpts: 

Advertisement

‘In my view at the local, state, and federal level, these governments across the country and leaders, mayors, and governors and city councils have abdicated their responsibility in fighting crime and addressing mental illness.

 ‘And we’re going to have to refine and transform and modernize many of the things we do to meet the needs of our customers in a very changing operating environment in which customer behavior is changing. 

‘I say that but at the same time, you have to understand something. Despite the challenges of Covid and post-Covid and the changes in customer behavior in which over 50% of the business is drive-thru… the demand for Starbucks coffee, domestically and around the world, has never been greater.’

In a second leaked video, Schultz said: 

Advertisement

‘I don’t have to spend too much time on what’s going on in the country and how America has become unsafe, but you all read the press release the last couple of days about the fact that we are beginning to close stores that are not unprofitable. 

‘It has shocked me that one of the primary concerns that our retail partners have is their own personal safety. And then we heard the stories about what happens in our bathrooms, the issues with mental illness, homelessness and crime. 

‘Starbucks is a window into America, we have stores in every community… we are facing things in which the stores were not built for. We’re listening to our people and closing stores, & this is just the beginning. There are going be many more.’

 

Advertisement

The closures were announced in an internal email sent to employees at the company Monday.

The correspondence saw Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson, both senior vice presidents of the chains’ US operations, cite questionable safety conditions at Starbucks stores in the aforementioned locations. 

The memo remarked how staffers at other stores across the country have experienced similar unrest as a result of ‘the challenges facing our communities.’

Advertisement

Those challenges, they wrote, include ‘personal safety, racism, lack of access to healthcare, a growing mental health crisis, rising drug use, and more.’

The officials added that ‘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 operations heads wrote. ‘We cannot serve as partners if we don’t first feel safe at work.’

Aside from the closures – which will see staffers at the stores transferred to other locations nearby – the company said it will now give staffers discretion to deny free access to the store’s bathrooms.

Advertisement

Last month, Schultz – who has sought to improve company culture since being appointed in April, amid recent pushes from staffers to unionize – said the company was rethinking its ‘open bathroom’ policy due to mounting safety concerns.

‘There is an issue of, just, safety in our stores, in terms of people coming in who use our stores as a public bathroom,’ Schultz said during a New York Times DealBook event last month.

‘We have to provide a safe environment for our people and our customers. The mental health crisis in the country is severe, acute and getting worse.’

Managers will also now have the freedom to adjust seating layouts and even adjust hours of operation in order to address staffers’ safety concerns.

Advertisement

A spokesperson for the company confirmed the closures to DailyMail.com Tuesday.

They said: ‘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.’

 

The closures were announced in an internal email sent to employees at the company Monday

The closures were announced in an internal email sent to employees at the company Monday

Advertisement
The closures come as cities across the nation have seen a drastic rise in crime over the past two years - spurred by the pandemic and recent soft-on-crime policies implemented by woke DA's who have sought to find alternatives to incarceration

The closures come as cities across the nation have seen a drastic rise in crime over the past two years – spurred by the pandemic and recent soft-on-crime policies implemented by woke DA’s who have sought to find alternatives to incarceration

Washington, DC, one of the locations that will experience closures, has seen a drastic rise in murders, with 93 compared to the 82 last year, a 13 percent jump

Washington, DC, one of the locations that will experience closures, has seen a drastic rise in murders, with 93 compared to the 82 last year, a 13 percent jump

The closures come as cities across the nation have seen a drastic rise in crime over the past two years – spurred by the pandemic and recent soft-on-crime policies implemented by woke DA’s who have sought to find alternatives to incarceration.

Seattle – the city where Starbucks was founded – has seen a surge in both violent and property crime since the start of the pandemic, with cops already recording 302 shootings so far this year – a 75 percent increase from last year.

Advertisement

In Washington, DC, there have already been 93 murders, compared to 82 last year, signaling a 13 percent jump.

Seattle - the city where Starbucks was founded - has seen a surge in both violent and property crime since the start of the pandemic, with cops already recording 302 shootings so far this year - a 75 percent increase from last year

Seattle – the city where Starbucks was founded – has seen a surge in both violent and property crime since the start of the pandemic, with cops already recording 302 shootings so far this year – a 75 percent increase from last year

Robberies are also up in the nation’s capital by a marked 25 percent.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, has arguably been hurt the most by woke politicians, with its District Attorney George Gascon now almost certain to face a recall election for soft policies.

Advertisement

The City of Angels has seen more people killed by guns during the first six months of 2022 than during the same period in any of the past 15 years, police say – while robberies are also rife, due to lax punishments on repeat offenders.

Gascon has been vocal about his belief that the criminal justice system needs to focus more on intervention and rehabilitation, blasting ‘tough on crime’ policies as racist and a failure.

And following his first 100 days in office, he touted the changes he has made to the city’s justice system – including limiting the use of sentencing enhancements.

The California penal code has more than 100 enhancements that could add time to a convict’s sentence depending on the situation, most of which date back to when California was facing soaring crime in the 1980s and 1990s.

Advertisement

But under Gascon’s reign, the use of those enhancements have been greatly reduced, with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office receiving 5,138 enhancements during his first three months – a 71 percent drop when compared to the same time the year before.

His first three months also saw prosecutors filing only 106 gun enhancements – an 85 percent decrease.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, has arguably been hurt the most by woke politicians, with its District Attorney George Gascon now almost certain to face a recall election for soft policies

Los Angeles, meanwhile, has arguably been hurt the most by woke politicians, with its District Attorney George Gascon now almost certain to face a recall election for soft policies

Starbucks CEO shuts 16 stores citing safety issues but employees claim he's trying to stop the union 7

Advertisement

In Portland, robberies have increased 56 per cent year-on-year, rising from 234 in January to March 2021 to 366 for the same period in 2022. 

Similar rises took place in drug crime numbers which rose 30 per cent this year up 146 in 2022 on 108 in 2021 and assault cases which were up six per cent year-on-year. 

The Portland Police Bureau suffered through a rash of retirements and resignations after Portland politicians embraced calls to defund the police. 

A total of $15million was initially chopped from the city’s budget, with progressive Portland prosecutors also blamed for the spiraling crime for refusing to charge 70 percent of people arrested by the city’s police.

Advertisement
Starbucks CEO shuts 16 stores citing safety issues but employees claim he's trying to stop the union 9

In Seattle, record-breaking high levels of crime have forced business owners to close their shops. 

Piroshky Piroshky bakery owner Olga Sagan, 38, made the tough decision to close her shop after she constantly found the entrance blocked with drug users who refused to move – and she says the Seattle Police Department did nothing to help.

In its 2021 year-end report, Seattle Police said that violent crime in the city has increased by 20 percent compared to 2020- which is for the first time in 14 years.  

Advertisement

According to SPD, shootings and shots fired calls increased 40 percent (+175) from 2020 to 2021, violent crime increased 20 percent and homeless-related shootings increased 122 percent.   

Some reasons for homelessness Seattle have been attributed to the cost of living in the city having significantly risen in the past decade due to gentrification, lack of publicly owned affordable housing, and the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The moves by Starbucks come in direct response to these crime surges, but are also part of a broader effort to revamp the company, Schultz said in a Monday letter to staff.

‘We need to reinvent Starbucks for the future,’ he wrote, adding that the company will need to ‘radically’ improve employee experiences in the coming months.

Advertisement

He added that based on feedback from employees, the company will strive to create ‘safety, welcoming and kindness for our stores.’

During its latest fiscal year, Starbucks closed 424 of its more than 15,000 US stores, about 5 percent of its total, while also opening 449 new locations. 

The moves by the company come in direct response to the crime surges and increased homeless presence

The moves by the company come in direct response to the crime surges and increased homeless presence


Advertisement
Advertisement