In a video posted on Twitter, Schultz said Starbucks is closing stores that are “not unprofitable” due to an uptick in safety-related problems including crime, homelessness and drug use in bathrooms. The company earlier announced plans to close 16 locations due to security issues.
“This is just the beginning, and there are going to be many more,” Schultz said. “It has shocked me that one of the primary concerns that our retail partners have is their own personal safety.”
Starbucks has previously said it will close locations in Portland, Oregon; Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Seattle and Washington.
Workers involved in unionization efforts say that the closures are a bid to defang efforts by workers to organize. Starbucks Workers United, which didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment, says that more than 180 locations have voted to unionize.
Of the 16 locations that are to be shuttered, two in Seattle recently voted to unionize and another in Portland was slated to vote in August, In These Times reported on July 14.
Unionized workers at a Starbucks cafe in Ithaca, New York, accused the Seattle-based company in June of shutting the store to retaliate against the recently organized location. Starbucks denied the allegation and has repeatedly said it respects workers’ rights to unionize and follows the law on labor issues.
At stores that are permanently closed, workers in good standing can switch to neighboring locations, the company said in an email. Starbucks said it will communicate with the union to discuss opportunities for transfers to other stores.
The company has pledged to offer more safety training for workers and clarify safety procedures, such as when to call 911, and making changes to store formats and layouts. The measures include “closing a restroom, or even closing a store permanently” where safety is no longer possible, according to a letter posted on the company website.
Insider first reported the news.