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8,000 Starbucks locations close for anti-bias training

By
Susan McFarland
A sign is seen on a Starbucks coffee store widow announcing early closing, in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. The coffee chain will close 8,000 stores nationwide today to conduct anti-bias training in the wake of an incident at a Philadelphia store where a store manager called the police on two African-American men who were quietly waiting for a friend. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
A sign is seen on a Starbucks coffee store widow announcing early closing, in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. The coffee chain will close 8,000 stores nationwide today to conduct anti-bias training in the wake of an incident at a Philadelphia store where a store manager called the police on two African-American men who were quietly waiting for a friend. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

May 29 (UPI) -- Starbucks will temporarily close 8,000 of its stores Tuesday afternoon to address racial biases and train staff to understand prejudice.

Beginning at 1 p.m. or 2 p.m. Starbucks locations throughout the U.S., will lock their doors to customers so about 180,000 employees can receive training on "all aspects of bias." Training will also take place at the company's Seattle headquarters.

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The move comes after a Philadelphia Starbucks manager called police in April on two black men who were sitting inside the shop waiting for a friend without ordering anything.

An arrest video sparked a nationwide outcry and apologies from the Philadelphia police commissioner and Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson, who called the arrests "reprehensible."

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Earlier this month, Starbucks announced a new policy requiring employees to consider everyone a customer, even if they don't make a purchase.

The training Tuesday will be costly, with some experts estimating the undertaking will cost more than $12 million in lost profit alone.

The company reminded coffee drinkers about the closings via social media.

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"For several hours this afternoon, we will close stores and offices to discuss how to make Starbucks a place where all people feel welcome. Thank you for your patience and support as we renew our promise to make Starbucks an inclusive gathering place for all. See you tomorrow," the company tweeted.

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During the training, Starbucks' employees will use a team guidebook to follow a sequence of videos to learn how to make people feel welcome. Workers will also pair off and discuss the question, "What makes me, me? And you, you?"

Starbucks will close the training with a video that has the message, "It won't be perfect, but we're all in this together."

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