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Starbucks Workers At 150 Stores Are On Strike Over Pride Decoration Policies

The union says that the stores have been removing displays during Pride month. In some cases, they cited the reason as "safety concerns."
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Engin Akyurt
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Engin Akyurt

Workers of 150 Starbucks stores in the US went on strike claiming that they were barred from decorating the coffee chain's stores to celebrate Pride month. They claimed that Starbucks restricted Pride month decorations at certain stores. The workers association, Starbucks Workers United, took to Twitter to say, "In the middle of Pride Month, Starbucks BANS Pride decorations in stores across the United States."

On Monday, the association said the strike will continue through the week after it was launched on June 23 at the company’s flagship Seattle Roastery. 

The association added that Starbucks is powered by many queer workers, but the management has failed to materially support the LGBTQ+ community. "Last October, some workers reported that their transgender benefit plan changed, causing them to pay out-of-pocket fees and lose access to certain providers," the association added in the same Twitter thread.


However, the company said that it continues to provide "unwavering support" to the LGBTQIA2+ community, per CNN Business. The coffee chain also said that there has been no change to any policy and they continue to encourage their store leaders who want to celebrate with their communities.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz expressed his support for the union and told CNN, "I don’t think a union has a place in Starbucks.” He said that the workers are allowed to file a petition to be unionized but the company also reserves the right to simply say, "We have a different vision that is better."

The union says that the stores have been removing displays during Pride month. In some cases, they cited the reason as "safety concerns." The company has always been outspoken when it came to its support for LGBTQ+ employees for decades now and the chain is also selling Pride-themed tumblers in its stores, which are designed by a Toronto-based gay artist Tim Singleton. However, a lot has changed in these few months.

Ian Miller, who is a supervisor for the Olney Maryland, store said that the company's "tone" changed in 2023 and his store manager needed prior approvals to decorate the store for Pride month because Starbucks is aiming for more "uniformity" across its stores, per AP News. "It’s disrespectful and counterintuitive," he told the outlet.

Pexels | Matthias Cooper
Pexels | Matthias Cooper

Laxman Narasimhan and Sara Trilling, Chief Executive and Executive Vice President, published a statement that said, "We continue to encourage our store leaders to celebrate with their communities including for U.S. Pride Month in June," per NY Times. However, the union is not happy with the response and said that they are trying to make people feel unwelcome in all the ways possible, as per Moore of the union.

According to a federal administrative law judge, the company was reportedly found to violate labor law by "enforcing a very strict dress code and also personal appearance policy," per the outlet. 

In 1988, the Seattle-based company extended full health benefits for same-sex partners.

In 2013, it stepped up to provide health coverage for people undergoing gender reassignment surgery and two years later, it let employees express themselves with a name or nickname of choice that is "consistent with their gender identity or expression,” per the company.

In 2021, the company made a generous donation to the Lavenders Rights Project which supports low-income people from the LGBTQ+ community.

In 2022, the Respect for Marriage Act was signed and Starbucks supported same-sex and interracial marriages. The company declared its plans to advance inclusion and also equity as per the letters to partners. 

The same year, the coffee chain provided over 400 grants to non-profit organizations that support LGBTQIA2+ communities. The company has also made a $50,000 donation to the National Center for Transgender Equality.