Shuttered Starbucks Stores Could Reopen Following Labor Complaint

Shuttered Starbucks Stores Could Reopen Following Labor Complaint

A Starbucks worker boards the Starbucks union bus after workers stood on the picket line with striking actors and writers in Los Angeles on July 28, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

City News Service

City News Service


Updated: 12/15/2023

LOS ANGELES—Starbucks could be forced to reopen six Southland locations that it closed last summer, with federal regulators alleging the stores were shuttered in an effort to suppress unionization efforts by employees.
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint Dec. 13 questioning the closures of 23 Starbucks locations nationwide, noting that workers at more than a half-dozen of those stores had already voted to unionize with Starbucks Workers United.
The NLRB called on Starbucks to reopen the locations, although the matter is expected to go before an administrative law judge sometime next year, The New York Times reported.
Mari Cosgrove, a member of Starbucks Workers United, issued a statement calling the NLRB complaint “the latest confirmation of Starbucks’ determination to illegally oppose workers’ organizing. It adds to the litany of complaints detailed in the company’s own report released this morning. If Starbucks is sincere in its overtures in recent days to forge a different relationship with its partners, this is exactly the kind of illegal behavior it needs to stop.”
A Starbucks representative told The New York Times, “Each year as a standard course of business, we evaluate the store portfolio” and typically open, close, or alter stores. The company told the paper it opened hundreds of new stores last year and closed more than 100, of which about 3 percent were unionized.
Workers at more than 350 corporate-run Starbucks locations nationally have voted to unionize.
The closures of the six Southland stores included in the NLRB complaint were announced by the company last summer. At the time, Starbucks vice presidents Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson wrote a letter to employees suggesting that the closures were the result of safety concerns at the locations being targeted. They wrote that issues facing the nation as a whole—including “personal safety, racism, lack of access to healthcare, a growing mental health crisis, rising drug use and more”—were impacting some of the coffee chain’s locations.
“With stores in thousands of communities across the country, we know these challenges can, at times, play out within our stores too,” they wrote. “We read every incident report you file—it’s a lot.”
The Southland store locations referenced in the NLRB complaint are:
  • Santa Monica Boulevard and Westmount Drive in West Hollywood
  • Hollywood Boulevard and Western Avenue
  • First and Los Angeles streets in downtown Los Angeles
  • Hollywood and Vine Street
  • Ocean Front Walk and Moss Avenue in Santa Monica
  • Second and San Pedro streets downtown
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