Coffee giant Starbucks is facing allegations from union organizers that it is banning Pride displays in its U.S. stores, despite the company’s long-standing support for LGBTQ+ employees. The claims come in the wake of backlash faced by other brands, such as Target, over similar issues. This article delves into the controversy, examining both Starbucks’ official stance and the skepticism expressed by union organizers.
Starbucks’ Official Denial and History of Support
Starbucks has vehemently denied the claims made by union organizers, asserting that there has been no change in its policy regarding Pride displays. The company reaffirmed its support for LGBTQ+ employees.
This highlights its history of inclusive practices, including extending health benefits to same-sex partners as early as 1988 and adding coverage for gender reassignment surgery in 2013. Starbucks emphasized that it continues to encourage its store leaders to celebrate Pride Month with their communities.
Union Allegations and Store Manager’s Directive
Starbucks Workers United, the union organizing U.S. Starbucks stores, alleges that store managers have been restricting or removing Pride displays across the country. Union representatives point to instances where managers cited safety concerns, referring to incidents at Target where customers reacted negatively to Pride displays.
Changing Company Tone and Employee Frustration
Union organizer Ian Miller suggests that Starbucks’ tone toward Pride displays has shifted this year, expressing his store manager’s emphasis on seeking “uniformity” and requiring prior approval. According to union organizer Ian Miller, his store manager informed him of the need for prior approval to put up Pride decorations, claiming that the company sought more “uniformity” in its stores.
Miller also mentions that the manager referenced the backlash faced by Bud Light after partnering with a transgender influencer and subsequently experiencing a decline in sales. Miller argues that such restrictions on Pride displays are disrespectful and counterintuitive, causing frustration among employees.
Specific Incident in Olney, Maryland
Miller highlights an incident in his store located in Olney, Maryland, where the manager initially imposed restrictions on Pride decorations. While small rainbow flags were eventually allowed, Miller notes that the company credit card, previously used for such purchases, was not used this time.
Unionization Efforts and Starbucks’ Opposition
Miller’s store is one of over 300 Starbucks locations that have voted to unionize since 2021. Starbucks has consistently opposed the unionization efforts. The allegations regarding Pride displays add another layer of tension between the company and union organizers, raising questions about the treatment of employees and the company’s commitment to inclusivity.
As union organizers claim that Starbucks is banning Pride displays in its U.S. stores, the coffee giant vehemently denies the allegations and emphasizes its unwavering support for LGBTQ+ employees. The controversy surrounding Pride displays during LGBTQ+ Pride month raises concerns about the company’s commitment to inclusivity and the treatment of its workers.
As the debate continues, the spotlight remains on Starbucks’ policies and actions regarding diversity and acceptance within its stores.