Clash over LGBTQ+ decor leads to planned strikes at more than 150 Starbucks stores

A Starbucks sign sits above a store entrance in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan
Workers United says store managers have curtailed or removed Pride displays. Starbucks said that there had been no change to any policy on the matter and that its support is “unwavering.”
(John Minchillo / Associated Press)
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Workers at more than 150 Starbucks locations across the country are planning to go on strike as the coffee chain and a union representing baristas clash over displays supporting LGBTQ+ causes in stores during Pride month.

Starbucks Workers United said in a tweet Friday that 3,500 workers will be striking over the next week.

Starbucks has consistently denied claims by union organizers that it was banning Pride displays in its U.S. stores after brands including Disney, Target and Bud Light suffered backlash and negative social media campaigns in some parts of the country after embracing LGBTQ+ marketing themes.


Even brands such as Chick-fil-A, which closes on Sundays for a day of “rest and worship,” and Cracker Barrel Old Country Store have been targeted online by anti-LGBTQ+ groups and individuals.

Starbucks on Friday said that the union is using misinformation as part of ongoing contract negotiations.

Workers at two more Starbucks coffee shops in L.A. have voted to unionize. Here’s what they say is motivating them.

Aug. 8, 2022

“Workers United continues to spread false information about our benefits, policies and negotiation efforts — a tactic used to seemingly divide our partners and deflect from their failure to respond to bargaining sessions for more than 200 stores,” Starbucks said in a written statement.

A Starbucks location in Buffalo, N.Y., was the first to unionize in early 2022 and at least 358 Starbucks stores have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to hold union elections, but those efforts have slowed in recent months with pushback from some workers who have resisted organization efforts.

Workers United, which represents baristas, says store managers around the country have curtailed or removed displays during a monthlong celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride. In some cases, the union said, managers told workers that Pride displays were a safety concern, citing recent incidents at Target in which some angry customers tipped over merchandise and confronted workers.

Seattle-based Starbucks said last week that there had been no change to any policy on the matter and that its support is “unwavering.” The company has been outspoken in its support for LGBTQ+ employees for decades. It extended full health benefits to same-sex partners in 1988 and added health coverage for gender reassignment surgery in 2013.


Starbucks Corp. is also currently selling Pride-themed tumblers in its stores designed by Toronto artist Tim Singleton, who is gay.