Starbucks transfers north Seattle café ownership to QFC; grocery store union to take over
Starbucks has announced that it will close one of its cafes at the QFC grocery store in north Seattle later this week.
The location at 9999 Holman Road NW will reopen under the management of QFC. The union representing Starbucks baristas, Starbucks Workers United (SWU), is saying that this is another example of the company breaking labor laws to disrupt union activity.
In February, the store joined dozens of others across the country in filing for a union election. In April, baristas voted 11 to 1 to join the Starbucks Workers United union.
The store is one of 19 stores that have been closed in the past few months, and the sixth location in Seattle. Of the stores that were closed, eight were unionized. In comparison, the recent store closures represent only 0.2% of almost 9,000 corporate-owned stores in the U.S.
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In a statement to MyNorthwest, a Starbucks spokesperson said that this was a part of a long-term plan at the location, and had nothing to do with the fact that the location was unionized.
“At Starbucks, we continue to evaluate the partner and customer experience at all of our stores. As a result, we have reached an agreement with QFC to operate the Holman Rd. location, which is attached to the QFC, as a licensed store. This decision will continue the long-term growth of this store and better align with the unique relationship this store has with customers and QFC.”
A spokesperson from the union representing QFC employees, UFCW 3000, said that the union is against Starbucks’ decision to close the store and license the café with QFC, saying they stood in support of SWU. The new employees working at the café will be represented by UCFW 3000 when ownership of the location is complete.
Starbucks has been closing locations over “safety concerns” for the past few months after CEO Howard Schultz said that the business would be evaluating which stores would be closed out of concern for employee safety.
Union officials are pushing back against this narrative by pointing out that several of the store closures have had union activity.
“Starbucks wants us to believe they’re not closing us down because we unionized, but because of a restroom issue that has been going on for years,” said Sarahann Rickner, a shift supervisor at the Holman store. “This most recent action further shows how desperate and afraid Howard Schultz is. He knows that he is on the wrong side of the law.”
University Way, another union store in Seattle, is going on strike on Aug 23 to protest the closure of the Holman Road store.
The company has said it’s working with the union to relocate affected baristas to stores of their choice.