Starbucks to close Capitol Hill location after safety concerns

Nov 22, 2022, 10:19 AM | Updated: 10:37 am

Starbucks red cup protest...

The Starbucks at Broadway and Denny, the site of a 'Red Cup Rebellion' protest on Nov. 17, shut down in December due to safety concerns. (Sam Campbell/KIRO Newsradio)

(Sam Campbell/KIRO Newsradio)

Starbucks has announced it will close one of its locations in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood at Broadway and Denny Way.

It’s one of the same storefronts where union workers from Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) picketed on Nov. 17, on the company’s annual holiday celebration for their new “Red Cup Day.” They joined more than 100 locations nationwide.

The strike fell on the day of the launch of Starbucks’ holiday line – the same day when the company hands out its recognizable red holiday cups. Organizers subsequently labeled their coordinated one-day strike the “Red Cup Rebellion.”

Union members told KIRO Newsradio the strike was joined by enough workers at the Broadway and Denny location that it forced the store’s closure that day.

Union participates in ‘Red Cup Rebellion’ at Seattle Starbucks

On Tuesday, Starbucks announced that it plans to close the store for good, citing persistent safety and security concerns as the reason.

The union claims, however, that the closure is retaliation for organizing, citing its closure date – Dec. 9 – falling on the same day the first Starbucks store in the U.S. organized in Buffalo, NY.

The store at Broadway and Denny was the first in Seattle to unionize, according to SBWU.

“We had been begging for a social worker and security guard since even before I worked there, but the only response we have ever gotten were vague gestures that ‘we’ve been heard’, while the company continues to ignore the problems. Our safety has never been a concern to Starbucks. This is clear retaliation,” said Rachel Ybarra, a union member and employee at the Broadway and Denny location.

Starbucks said it will work with employees at the location to transfer them to other stores when possible.

Starbucks released the following statement to KIRO Newsradio:

“At Starbucks, we make every effort to ensure our partners feel safe and supported at work so they can focus on providing our customers the safe, welcoming experience they’ve come to love and expect. Unfortunately, despite several mitigating efforts, safety and security incidents at our Broadway and Denny store have continued to escalate. As a result, we will be closing our Broadway and Denny store to customers on December 9, 2022.

“We make every effort to ensure our partners feel safe and supported at work so they can focus on providing our customers the warm, welcoming Starbucks Experience they’ve come to love and expect.

“We routinely review the partner and customer experience in our stores to ensure the store is thriving, partners feel supported and we are meeting customer needs. When safety issues in and around a store continue to jeopardize the well-being of our partners, we will close the location and work with partners to help them relocate to other stores, when possible.

“Our goal is to ensure that every partner is supported, and we will bargain with the union in good faith to discuss the impact of this decision on our partners—including opportunities to transfer to other area stores.

“We remain committed to our hometown and look forward to continuing to serve our customers at one of our nearby locations.”

This is not the first time Starbucks has recently closed a location, with 16 stores across the country closing down, including five in Seattle, with safety concerns operating as the primary reason.

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