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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Starbucks to offer ‘clearer’ store decor guidelines after Pride clash

Starbucks said that it would issue “clearer” guidelines on permissible store decorations for Pride Month.


Starbucks said earlier this week that it would issue “clearer” guidelines on permissible store decorations after the union that represents thousands of its workers said management had prohibited some employees from putting up decorations for Pride Month.

Sara Trilling, the North America president for Starbucks, said in a memo to employees that the company’s policy on visual displays had not changed but that more specific directions were coming. She also reiterated the company’s support of the LGBTQ community, saying, “No one can take away our legacy and our continued commitment to being a place where we all belong.”

Starbucks responded after workers at more than 150 stores went on strike over the course of a week starting Friday to protest the company’s decorations policy, its treatment of LGBTQ workers and unfair labor practices generally.

Starbucks Workers United said Monday that the strike would go on unless the company agreed to come to the bargaining table. “While we are glad Starbucks is finally reconsidering its position on pride decorations, Starbucks continues to ignore that they are legally required to bargain with union workers — that’s the power of a union,” the union said in a statement.

About 12 stores have had to close each day since the strike began, a Starbucks spokesperson said.

The company also filed two charges with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing the union of starting “a smear campaign” against it by misrepresenting the company’s stances on LGBTQ issues, including its benefits policy on gender-affirming care.

“The union’s violations have ignited and inflamed workplace tension and division and provoked strikes and other business disruptions in Starbucks stores,” the charges said.

The union said it was confident those charges would be dismissed, calling them a “public relations stunt.”

Why it matters:

How companies approach Pride marketing has been subject to increasing scrutiny.

Bud Light, for one, faced backlash and dipping sales after a transgender influencer posted a promotional video for the American beer staple. Target, one of the country’s largest retailers, said it had to relocate its Pride collection to prevent further threats to its employees.

Background: The fight over bargaining has grown heated.

The union has staged a series of strikes in the past year over what it says are aggressive anti-union tactics, such as retaliatory firings and delayed bargaining. In response to tensions with the union, Starbucks adopted a stricter dress code and decor policy to prevent workers from filling stores with union paraphernalia.

The union, which first filed petitions at three stores in August 2021, now represents about 8,000 of the company’s workers in more than 300 stores.

Starbucks has faced dozens of National Labor Relations Board complaints, including one in April that accused the company of failing to bargain in good faith with workers at more than 100 stores. In March, the coffee giant faced a scathing ruling from an administrative law judge who concluded that it illegally retaliated against unionized workers.

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