Coffee giant Starbucks is facing a dispute with a labor union over allegations that workers at certain US stores have been prohibited from displaying Pride decorations this year.
The clash occurs amid a surge of right-wing opposition targeting American businesses that express support for LGBTQ+ individuals.
Boycotts have been launched against prominent corporate names such as retailer Target and beer giant Anheuser-Busch.
Simultaneously, Republican-controlled states have enacted a wave of legislation that erodes the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly regarding teaching gay or trans rights issues in schools.
U.S legislation introduces 520 anti-LGBTQ bills
The Human Rights Campaign reports that a record-breaking 520 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in US state legislatures thus far in 2023, with 74 bills passing.
The controversy at Starbucks unfolded when an anonymous worker at a non-unionized store in Virginia initiated a petition on Coworker.org, claiming that Starbucks managers instructed employees not to display Pride decorations this year.
The worker expressed surprise and suspicion, stating that the decision seemed peculiar considering the timing.
Pride decor ban sparks petition, union concerns at Starbucks
The petition, which targets the regional manager, argues that prohibiting Pride decorations is unnecessary and does not adversely affect corporate profits.
Customers appreciate the decorations, many of whom are part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Starbucks Workers United, the labor union representing Starbucks workers at over 300 locations across the US, also took to Twitter to voice their concerns.
Starbucks bans pride decoration in 21 states across the U.S.
They alleged that workers in at least 21 states, including employees at unionized stores, reported that their store management had banned Pride decorations.
The union disputed Starbucks’s denials, citing social media reports and TikTok videos from workers documenting the removal of Pride decorations at their respective stores.
Starbucks acknowledges worker-management gap in decoration policies
While Starbucks refuted any changes to corporate policies and denied awareness of any corporate store banning Pride decorations, the company acknowledged the need to bridge the gap between workers and management regarding decoration policies.
Starbucks affirmed its unwavering support for the LGBTQIA2+ community and encouraged store leaders to celebrate Pride Month with their communities.
Pride decor removal sparks worker frustration, concern at Starbucks
The worker who started the petition argued that the decision to remove Pride decorations, especially in light of the recent surge in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, is detrimental to communities needing public support.
They expressed frustration with Starbucks’s denial of the issue and emphasized the influence of regional managers in implementing store policies.
Starbucks makes ‘company-wide’ shift from pride decorations
Another Starbucks worker in Maryland confirmed that their store removed all decorations at the start of Pride month, indicating a company-wide shift rather than an isolated incident.
Starbucks Workers United highlighted the contrast between the current policy and previous years when Pride decorations were permitted.
They also drew attention to Target’s recent removal of Pride merchandise in response to threats and criticism from far-right anti-LGBTQ+ groups, implying a trend among companies succumbing to external pressures.
Starbucks, labor union conflict highlights ongoing struggles for inclusivity
The dispute between Starbucks and the labor union underscores the ongoing challenges faced by businesses in supporting the LGBTQ+ community amid a divisive political and cultural climate.
This conflict’s outcome will impact Starbucks and reflect the larger struggle for equality and acceptance.