Starbucks has announced that it will close the store at Broadway and Denny in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, citing safety and security concerns.
It will close on Dec. 9. According to Starbucks Workers United, that day will also be the anniversary of the first union win in Buffalo, New York.
Rachel Ybarra works at the Broadway and Denny location and they believe that timing is not just a coincidence.
“There are 365 days in a year, they could not have chosen that one on accident,” said Ybarra. “This is on purpose, this is malicious.”
In July, Starbucks closed six stores in Western Washington — five in Seattle and one in Everett — amid similar concerns. The company said drug use, theft and assault were the primary problems.
“With this being the fourth union store that’s shut down in Seattle, a lot of us in Seattle and across the country are upset,” said Ybarra.
On Tuesday, Starbucks said that despite engaging with police and community members, as well as other mitigation efforts, incidents at the Broadway and Denny store continued to escalate, “including theft, vandalism, property damage, drug use, threats of physical violence, verbal harassment and assault.”
The company released the following information on Tuesday, in part:
“When safety issues in and around a store continue to jeopardize the well-being of our partners, we will close the location and work with partners to help them relocate to other stores, when possible.”
“Our goal is to ensure that every partner is supported, and we will bargain with the union in good faith to discuss the impact of this decision on our partners — including opportunities to transfer to other area stores.”
“At stores that have elected union-representation — like our Broadway and Denny store — Starbucks will meet the union at the table to participate in effects bargaining with the hope of providing continued employment to affected partners. Starbucks and Workers United have successfully completed effects bargaining for dozens of locations impacted by temporary and permanent closures.”
“All partners at our Broadway and Denny store will be paid for their scheduled shifts through Dec. 11, 2022.”
A statement from Starbucks Workers United, though, claims the closure is “blatant retaliation” given the store’s status as the first in the city to file for a union election. Starbucks has closed three other unionized locations in Seattle.
“We had been begging for a social worker and security guard since even before I worked there, but the only response we have ever gotten were vague gestures that ‘we’ve been heard’, while the company continues to ignore the problems,” one employee said. “Our safety has never been a concern to Starbucks.”