The United States' most ubiquitous retail coffee shop chain is planning to shut down multiple locations across the country due to worker safety concerns.
Starbucks announced that it will be closing 16 of its locations that "have experienced a high volume of challenging incidents that make it unsafe to continue to operate," per CNN Business.
This all comes after Starbucks workers reported incidents related to drug use and other disruptive issues, the "Squawk Box" team at CNBC reported. The stores that are scheduled to close by the end of July are located in Seattle, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Portland.
In a letter written to employees, senior vice presidents of U.S. operations Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson addressed the safety concerns. The workers are "seeing firsthand the challenges facing our communities – personal safety, racism, lack of access to healthcare, a growing mental health crisis, rising drug use, and more," the letter reads, noting that "creating a safe, welcoming, and kind third place" is their "top priority."
In the meantime, Starbucks is also working to shift its company culture as employees vote to unionize and report burnout. Nicholas Hart, a partner at Harrison, Hart & Davis in Albuquerque, New Mexico told Forbes that "[t]hese were people who worked through the entire pandemic, who were essential workers providing food services to everybody in the country."
The shops that will become unionized will not be included in these upcoming changes as they have separate contractual negotiations, Forbes says.