Starbucks workers at over 150 stores to strike over Pride decor dispute By Reuters

© Reuters. A Starbucks sign is show on one of the companies stores in Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 19,2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake

(Reuters) -More than 150 Starbucks (NASDAQ:) stores and 3,500 workers will be on strike next week across the United States, the union representing the coffee chain’s baristas said on Friday, after it claimed the company had banned Pride Month decorations at its cafes.

Starbucks Workers United union said earlier this month the company took down Pride Month decorations and flags at several stores, while some workers took to social media to report the same.

Starbucks on Friday denied the claims as “false information”. It said last week there had been “no change to any policy on this matter” and that it was still encouraging store managers to celebrate Pride Month as long as store safety guidelines were followed.

Several major U.S. retail brands have faced backlash from conservatives over displays of LGBTQ+ merchandise, and following that, criticism from gay rights groups for insufficient support for the community after the companies relented under pressure from conservatives.

U.S. retailer Target (NYSE:) has moved displays of, or even pulled some Pride merchandise off shelves, and Anheuser-Busch InBev’s sales of its Bud Light beer have fallen in recent weeks over efforts to market to the transgender community.

Starbucks Workers United said on Friday in a tweet the company’s Seattle Roastery – located just nine blocks from Starbucks’ first ever store at the Pike Place Market – was leading the nationwide strike.

Shares of the company were down about 2% at $99.10 in premarket trading.

Starbucks, which runs about 9,000 U.S. company-owned locations, has seen employees at more than 300 stores vote to unionize since late 2021 demanding better pay and benefits.

The company is currently also facing hundreds of complaints, accusing it of illegal labor practices such as firing union supporters and shutting stores during labor campaigns.

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