Starbucks to close Broadway & Denny store: Union plans big rally December 9

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Photo by A.V. Eichenbaum
Photo by A.V. Eichenbaum

Starbucks will close its Broadway & Denny location on December 11, the company told workers in a November 21 announcement. According to Starbucks, the location has become "unsafe" and therefore must close.

"Unfortunately, despite several mitigating efforts, safety and security incidents at our Broadway & Denny store have continued to escalate," Andrew Trull, a Starbucks spokesperson, said.

Starbucks Workers United (SBWU) — the union organizing the company's employees — rejected the official explanation, charging Starbucks with retaliation.

In a statement, SBWU noted that December 9, the next-to-last day the store will be open, marks the anniversary of SBWU being formed in Buffalo, New York.

Photo by A.V. Eichenbaum  

"The Broadway & Denny location was the first store to unionize in Seattle, and one of the first locations to organize in the country," a union spokesperson said.

The Broadway & Denny store also participated in the "Red Cup Rebellion" on November 17, joining more than a hundred Starbucks locations in a nationwide one-day strike. The strike coincided with the company's Red Cup Day promotion, when customers are urged to buy reusable holiday cups from Starbucks locations.

Customers who chimed in on Twitter were also suspicious of the company's assertions about safety.

"The one at Broadway & Denny?" one person tweeted. "That's the heart of Capitol Hill... It's on the same block as the train station and a popular hamburger joint, a block from a popular park. That is some major crap. Those other businesses are just fine."

In July, Starbucks also closed five other Seattle-area stores, allegedly for safety reasons, including the Olive Way store on Capitol Hill. At that time SBWU filed unfair labor practice charges against the company for retaliation.

Red Cup Rebellion — Photo courtesy of SBWU  

Union rally December 9
As Starbucks was announcing its plan to close the Broadway & Denny store, SBWU announced plans for a rally right on the doorstep of Starbucks corporate headquarters. The December 9 rally marks the one-year anniversary of the union's formation, when workers at a Starbucks in Buffalo, New York, voted to unionize.

Starbucks headquarters is at Utah Avenue South and South Lander Street in Seattle's SoDo district. The rally will last from 7:00 a.m. until 10:00 a.m. A September 13 rally at Starbucks headquarters drew hundreds of people, mostly Starbucks workers and other union supporters.

Starbucks has begun first contract bargaining with the union at several locations, but union bargaining teams report that the company's lawyers show up at the table only to excuse themselves for a "caucus" after a few minutes. The union bargaining team is then left sitting alone in the room for hours, until the scheduled session ends.

The union has condemned this as a stalling tactic designed to wear down and demoralize union members.