Update: Starbucks has denied the union’s claim, with Starbucks spokesperson Andrew Trull telling the New York Post, “We unwaveringly support the LGBTQIA2+ community. There has been no change to any policy on this matter and we continue to encourage our store leaders to celebrate with their communities including for US Pride Month in June. We’re deeply concerned by false information that is being spread especially as it relates to our inclusive store environments, our company culture and the benefits we offer our partners.” However, reports claim that some workers were ordered to remove Pride decorations, so it is unclear what the order is or might have been. This article has been kept the same other than this note, and the title has been changed to more clearly reflect that the union was making the claim.
As parents and consumers continue pushing back on more and more aggressive LGBT- and Pride-themed celebrations, companies have begun to take notice that their virtue signaling can come with the heavy cost of lost business and critical market share. Already in June, the designated month to promote all things LGBT, some major organizations have bailed on their public participation. Major League Baseball, for example, reverted back to its standard graphics on social media after just a few days, dropping their rainbow-colored logo for the traditional red, white, and blue Harmon Killebrew. Now Starbucks is joining them as well.
According to an as yet uncorroborated allegation from the Starbucks workers union, Starbucks Workers United, the coffee shop has banned all “Pride” decorations in the middle of June, “Pride Month.”
“BREAKING: In the middle of Pride Month, Starbucks BANS Pride decorations in stores across the United States,” the Starbucks Workers United Twitter account posted at about 10 am on June 13th. “For the last two weeks, Starbucks workers have taken to social media to report that the company is no longer allowing Pride decorations in-store. This seems to be the first year the publicly “pro-LGBTQ+” company has taken this kind of stance,” the thread continued.
For the last two weeks, Starbucks workers have taken to social media to report that the company is no longer allowing Pride decorations in-store. This seems to be the first year the publicly "pro-LGBTQ+" company has taken this kind of stance.
— Starbucks Workers United (@SBWorkersUnited) June 13, 2023
The union connected Starbucks’ backing down on the “Pride” issue in the face of conservative anger at such decorations to Target’s backing down on its Pride displays when furor rose, moving them to the back of stores and shrinking them. “Taking a cue from Target, who bowed to anti-LGBTQ+ pressure and removed pride merchandise, corporate and district management are taking down the pride decorations that have become an annual tradition in stores,” the union said on Twitter
The union also alleged that Starbucks acted unilaterally in stores controlled by the unions, taking down the Pride decorations without any input from the unions that they technically need permission from to make a large change. “In union stores, where Starbucks claims they are unable to make “unilateral changes” without bargaining, the company took down Pride decorations and flags anyway – ignoring their own anti-union talking point,” the union account claimed.
The account then accused Starbucks of not sufficiently supporting its LGBTQ+ workers, particularly transgender individuals, saying, “Starbucks is powered by many queer workers, but management has failed to materially support the LGBTQ+ community. Last October, some workers have reported that their transgender benefit plan changed, causing them to pay out of pocket fees and lose access to certain providers.”
It then accused the coffee shop of not being sufficiently dedicated to such employees, particularly saying that the company had not been a “true ally” to its employees of those persuasions, saying, “If Starbucks was a true ally, they would stand up for us, especially during a time when LGBTQ+ people are under attack. A company that cares wouldn’t turn their back on the LGBTQ+ community to protect their already astronomically high profits.”
The account then demanded a union contract that protects the rights of “LGBTQ+” workers and locks in their benefits and ability to express themselves, presumably with pride decorations, saying, “True allyship with the LGBTQ+ community is negotiating a union contract that legally locks-in our benefits, our freedom of expression, and ways to hold management accountable.”
Starbucks is yet to comment on or post about the issue, though, abnormally for Pride month and it being a generally woke company, its logo on Twitter is not a rainbow. Further, its last post on Twitter, as of the time this article was written, came after the union’s allegations and is about a Starbucks drink, the Iced Caramel Macchiato, not the allegations that the union made about its taking down Pride decorations. Here that post is:
10 years strong 💜👌 https://t.co/uHgmJnQ1NX
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) June 13, 2023
“HUGE: Starbucks is taking down all Pride decorations in every store across the United States,” the conservative Twitter account DC Draino posted.
“People are sick of sexual ideology being forced down their throats, even at Starbucks,” the account continued.
HUGE: Starbucks is taking down all Pride decorations in every store across the United States
People are sick of sexual ideology being forced down their throats, even at Starbucks
Just sell coffee!https://t.co/SbKe9cJFc1
— DC_Draino (@DC_Draino) June 13, 2023
Interestingly, the typically-woke Starbucks appears to be backing down from the increasing pressure to pander to a small subset of the population at the exact same time the faux conservative coffee company Black Rifle is doing the exact opposite.
While the removal of its June content will likely not change the overall tone of the company, it is nevertheless nice to see companies focusing on selling products rather than pushing leftist cultural messages.
Starbucks previously got plenty of flack for closing down all stores to focus on race sensitivity training in the wake of an encounter in Philadelphia with two black men who did not purchase drinks for several hours while holding down limited space at the tables and asking to use the restroom. It likewise got a lot of pushback for that, but the conservative movement was not nearly as aligned in its outrage, nor was BLM particularly focused on young people, a sense which is different in many of the Pride Month offerings from companies.
Whatever the case, it’s nice to see a semblance of normalcy in many of the big brands. When people buy clothes, groceries, or coffee, or catch a baseball game, they don’t want to be constantly reminded of the cultural messages nor have, in many cases, their values affronted.
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