Six Los Angeles Starbucks stores are among 16 closing nationwide due to repeated safety problems, the coffee giant said Tuesday.
Details about which Los Angeles locations will close were not immediately available.
The company said six stores will close in its hometown of Seattle, two in Portland, Oregon, one each in Philadelphia and Washington, and six in LA. Starbucks said employees at those stores will be given the opportunity to transfer to other stores.
The move is part of a response to employee concerns about safety, including reports of drug use in stores and threats to staff members.
“That’s shocking, that’s really shocking, but I don’t blame them,” said Varian Gray, who works in Hollywood near Starbucks’ Hollywood and Vine location, one of the stores set to close. “People get stuff thrown at them, spit on them, anything, and so it’s not good.”
“We know these challenges can, at times, play out within our stores too. We read every incident report you file — it’s a lot,” Starbucks’ senior vice presidents of operations Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson said in a joint statement.
The closures come at a time when some stores voted to unionize, including two of the Seattle locations that are closing. Last month, Starbucks also closed a unionized store in Ithaca, New York, because of operational problems, including an overflowing grease trap.
Starbucks insisted the closures weren’t related to the unionization drive.
“Opening and closing stores is part of our business operations,” a spokesperson for the company said. “This is really rooted in safe and welcoming stores.”
U.S. labor law doesn’t prevent Starbucks from closing its stores for business reasons. But it can’t close a store — whether it’s unionized or not — in retaliation against labor organizers.