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Starbucks vows 'clearer' Pride decor guidelines amid union clash

Starbucks plans to issue “clearer centralized guidelines” on its policy for in-store Pride month decorations following a clash with the union over claims the coffee giant banned the displays. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Starbucks plans to issue “clearer centralized guidelines” on its policy for in-store Pride month decorations following a clash with the union over claims the coffee giant banned the displays. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

June 27 (UPI) -- Starbucks plans to issue "clearer centralized guidelines" on its policy for in-store Pride month decorations following a clash with the union over claims the Seattle-based coffee giant banned the displays.

"We have heard from our partners that you want to be creative in how our stores are represented and that you see visual creativity in stores as part of who we are and our culture," North America President Sara Trilling wrote in an open letter Monday.

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"Equally, we have also heard through our partner channels that there is a need for clarity and consistency on current guidelines around visual displays and decorations," Trilling added.

Starbucks said it plans to use resources such as its Period Planning Kit and Siren's Eye program, which provide seasonal signage and display guidelines.

Trilling said Starbucks will issue "clearer centralized guidelines ... for in-store visual displays and decorations that will continue to represent inclusivity and our brand," while also providing "the flexibility needed so that our stores reflect the communities they serve."

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As of Monday, more than 60 Starbucks stores in 17 states launched a strike, claiming the company prevented dozens of locations from putting up decorations in observation of LGBTQ Pride month, according to the union. More than 150 stores have pledged to join the strike by Friday.

Starbucks filed complaints Monday with the National Labor Relations Board over the union's claims, calling them a "smear campaign, which includes deliberate misrepresentations to Starbucks partners."

While insisting the company has not changed its policies on decorations, Starbucks blasted the union in the filing.

"The union's violations have ignited and inflamed workplace tension and division and provoked strikes and other business disruptions in Starbucks stores," the company said.

"The union's unlawful campaign includes, without limitation, making deliberate misrepresentations that include maliciously and recklessly false statements about Starbucks' longstanding support of Pride month and decorations in its stores. The union has knowingly and falsely stated that Starbucks has banned all Pride decorations from its stores."

The coffee giant also pushed back in a second filing with the NLRB, regarding benefits for LGBTQ+ workers.

"Starbucks continues to provide its partners with industry-leading gender-affirming care benefits. The union has knowingly and falsely stated that Starbucks eliminated or changed the benefits coverage for its LGBTQIA2+ partners."

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Starbucks Workers Union, which represents more than 300 stores, out of 9,300 in the United States, said the NLRB charges are "nothing more than a public relations stunt meant to distract from Starbucks' own actions."

According to emails obtained by More Perfect Union, Starbucks executives decided last year to cancel future Pride month celebrations.

The emails claim the decision impacted more than 100 stores in parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri, with a manager instructing a shift supervisor to throw out previous years' Pride decorations in order to "create consistency from store to store."

"This latest move to remove Pride from Starbucks feels like a slap in the face coming from a company that lured many members of the community into its ranks by claiming support," said Riley Alexander, a barista in an Arkansas Starbucks.

"Starbucks has offered us a place at the table just to pull the chair from under us as we sat down."

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