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Starbucks closing Capitol Hill store, the first union location in Seattle

Starbucks will close a store located at Broadway and Denny in Capitol Hill on Dec. 9.

The location happens to be the first Starbucks to unionize in Seattle, and some employees are alleging that the closure is "blatant retaliation" and a union-busting tactic.

Workers United, the employees' union, points out that the closure is scheduled on the anniversary of the union's formation last year. It also says that the Capitol Hill store is the fourth unionized Seattle location to close (along with Olive Way, First and Pike, and Holman Road).

Starbucks says the reasons for the Capitol Hill closure are "safety and security incidents." A Starbucks spokesperson says the company tried to resolve the issues at the store to no avail, and now, the company believes that closing it is the best way to keep staff and customers safe.

"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.”

The spokesperson adds that the company routinely reviews "partner and customer experience" at its stores, and if it chooses to close a location because of safety concerns it will "work with partners to help them relocate to other stores, when possible." They also say that "we will bargain with the union in good faith to discuss the impact of this decision on our partners."

For Barista Tyler “Bolt” Stuart, this feels like deja vu. Stuart says he worked at the Olive Way Starbucks which closed in July.

“This has happened to me before," Bolt said. "It was almost verbatim the same spiel about Olive Way for Broadway-Denny.”

Rachel Ybarra, a member of the Broadway and Denny Starbucks union, said in a statement that they have worked for two and a half years at the location and the company never opted to close the store during the pandemic or amid protests.

"Starbucks has made it a point to stay open as often and long as possible, whether the workers thought it safe or not,” Ybarra said. “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."

Staff employed at the Capitol Hill store will be paid for their shifts through Dec. 11.

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