Workers at two Seattle Starbucks locations slated to close for good Sunday reached an agreement with the company Friday on what comes next for the newly unionized employees.
The agreement, negotiated earlier this week, marks the first time a deal has been struck between Starbucks and Workers United, the union representing workers at dozens of the more than 180 Starbucks that have unionized in the past year.
Starbucks stores at 1600 E. Olive Way and 505 Fifth Ave. S., which are unionized, are among those closing Sunday. Starbucks previously announced it would close six stores in the Puget Sound area — five in Seattle and one in Everett — due to safety concerns, the company has said.
Workers will be reassigned to nearby stores Monday with no gap in their schedules. Baristas had said they worried they would not have the same number of hours as before, and would be paid less. Announcing the closures July 11, the company said workers who were reassigned would at least have a minimum amount of hours.
Union workers also will be able to refuse to return to their stores if Starbucks reopens Olive Way, 505 Union or a new nearby store before July 31, 2023, the union said in a statement. That means workers from the two stores would get automatically accepted to transfer back if Starbucks reopens the stores, unless they decided not to.
Starbucks does not have plans to reopen the shuttered stores at this time, a spokesperson said. And the hours that were agreed on are “substantially equivalent” to what they were working previously for both union and nonunion workers.
The company also said managers will be able to decide whether to close bathrooms to the public. Stores that remain open will have more safety equipment allowing workers to have a full view of the store. And new employees will receive 40 hours of safety training instead of 20.
Starbucks said the changes are in response to crises around “personal safety, racism, lack of access to health care, a growing mental health crisis, rising drug use and more” that play out at Starbucks stores.
At the same time, 30% of the stores that are closing were unionized, organizing or petitioning to form a union, according to Workers United. Starbucks interim CEO Howard Schultz said in June he doesn’t think a “third party” should come between workers.