Jul 28, 2022 - News

Union Station Starbucks closing Sunday

The outside of the Union Station Starbucks.
Photo: Paige Hopkins/Axios

Starbucks is permanently closing its Union Station location on Sunday, along with 15 other stores nationwide, citing safety issues impacting staff. 

Why it matters: Union reps have questioned whether there’s a hidden agenda behind the decision to close the high-traffic location, which is a staple for travelers coming and going through Union Station.

What’s happening: Several workers were in the early stages of organizing, a Starbucks Workers United representative confirmed to Axios.

  • “It's no coincidence that some of the stores Starbucks has abruptly closed — including the one at Union Station — were in the process of organizing. It's union busting and we will not stand for it,” Metro Washington Labor Council President Dyana Forester told Axios in a statement.

A Starbucks spokesperson wouldn’t confirm whether company leaders were aware of the Union Station unionization effort. They disputed claims of union busting, saying the decision to close was solely about safety.

Driving the news: Starbucks execs have recently addressed safety concerns in stores nationwide and are considering closing bathrooms to non-customers. The frequency of the issues at Union Station specifically is unclear. 

  • “They’re incidents associated with chronic homelessness, with (the) mental health crisis, with substance abuse, and rising social and economic upheaval as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” a company spokesperson tells Axios.

Context: Union Station isn’t within MPD’s jurisdiction, but the agency does respond to incidents there when requested. MPD data shows that so far this year there were 35 more crime incidents compared to the same period last year in ANC 6C, which includes Union Station.

  • Neither Professional Security Consultants, which handles security at Union Station, nor station management responded to our requests for comment.

Zoom in: Some Union Station Starbucks workers came away with a different impression about why the store is closing. Those we talked with believed it had to do with renovations.

  • That’s not true, according to a company spokesperson. 

Zoom out: Two recently unionized stores in Seattle are among the 16 stores closing nationwide. Workers there have protested the closure.  

What’s next for your coffee fix: Union Station has other options, including Au Bon Pain, Blue Bottle Coffee, and Pret a Manger.

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