Starbucks closes 16 locations due to worker safety concerns

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Starbucks is closing 16 stores in cities across the country, fearing its customers and employees will be safe, despite training the company uses in skills such as de-escalating conflict, dealing with an active shooter and how to engage community and emergency services.

“We are closing stores in select locations that have experienced a high number of difficult incidents that make it difficult to create a safe and welcoming environment,” a spokesperson told The Washington Post.

The closures include six locations in Los Angeles, six in and around Seattle, two in Portland, Oregon, one in Philadelphia, and the Union Station store in Washington, DC.

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Although the spokeswoman declined to specify the individual incidents that prompted the closures, Starbucks executives on Monday acknowledged that workers had encountered a barrage of issues, some related to drug use, mental health and to racism in the neighborhoods they serve.

“You are… seeing firsthand the challenges facing our communities – personal safety, racism, lack of access to health care, growing mental health crisis, increasing drug use, etc.,” Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson, both senior vice presidents of US operations, in a letter to employees. “We know that these challenges can sometimes occur in our stores as well. We read every incident report you file, that’s a lot.

They wrote that the company could take measures such as closing bathrooms – which are usually open to the public – or closing shops entirely. Affected employees will be given the option of being relocated to nearby locations, the spokeswoman said.

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It’s not unusual for Starbucks to close — and open — locations, though the reason for closing so many seems new to the company. According to its latest annual report, Starbucks operates 8,941 stores in the United States. It closed 424 locations in the last fiscal year, although it opened 449 and moved 19 stores in the same time frame.

Two of the locations marked for closure, in Seattle, are among those that recently unionized. Another of the 16, one of the Portland stores, had called for a union vote. The push to organize Starbucks workers, which has so far reportedly been adopted in 133 stores, began last year in Buffalo, amid renewed interest in organizing workers in a number of locations. industries.

As it competes for workers, Starbucks recently embarked on what CEO Howard Shultz described as a “significant reinvention” of the business, though it’s not yet clear what a new one would look like. such overhaul. “We need to modernize and transform the Starbucks experience in our stores and recreate a relevant, welcoming and safe environment,” he wrote in a letter to workers Monday.

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