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USA: Starbucks stores involved in union drive temporarily closed amid mandatory 'anti-union' meetings with workers

"Starbucks Temporarily Closes 2 Stores That Are Trying to Unionize", 13 October 2021

Starbucks has temporarily closed two stores involved in a union drive in Buffalo, New York, that are leading what could soon become the first campaign to successfully unionize the coffee shop giant.

The company said that the two temporary store closures in Buffalo have nothing to do with the union drive—one is for a remodel and the other is for training new hires...

Starbucks is working with Littler Mendelson, the largest anti-union law firm in the country, on the union drive...to hold a series of mandatory weekly anti-union meetings at each of its stores in the Buffalo region...

"The timing [of the closures] is suspicious," said Jaz Brisack, a barista from one of the five Buffalo stores that has filed for a union election and is now closed for the remodel. Brisack's store is expected to reopen within a week. ...

The second unionizing Starbucks store in Buffalo has been closed for weeks, and will remain closed indefinitely, and used as a site to train new hires, under a new program Starbucks launched in May...

"Partners from that store are not losing hours and are being provided times at other stores," Reggie Borges, a spokesperson for Starbucks, told Motherboard. 

Borges said the decision to close the location indefinitely and use it as a "training store" was a response to complaints from workers during "listening sessions" the company held in response to the union drive that they weren't receiving enough training—and had been stung by bees for months at the location. He denied that either store closure was related to the union drive...

In recent weeks, Starbucks regional managers and executives have been in Buffalo stores...holding intimate mandatory anti-union meetings with small groups of workers, and flooding stores with new hires. Leaders of the union say these tactics have intimidated and threatened workers and created the impression of constant surveillance...