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Citing safety reasons, Starbucks announced it will close its store at the Union Station Train Concourse in northeast D.C.

The location counts among the 16 Starbucks stores nationwide scheduled to close by the end of the month. Stores in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle are closing.

“You’re also seeing firsthand the challenges facing our communities – personal safety, racism, lack of access to healthcare, a growing mental health crisis, rising drug use, and more,” Denise Stroud and Denise Nelson, Starbucks’ vice presidents, wrote in a letter to employees this week. 

“With stores in thousands of communities across the country, we know these challenges can, at times, play out within our stores too. We read every incident report you file – it’s a lot,” they wrote.

In a separate letter, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz shared a set of principles and a new partnership to reinvent the company. 

“The state of the world, the conditions of our stores and communities, and the hopes and dreams and lives of each of our partners are top of mind as I write you this morning,” Schultz wrote. 

“Since my return in April, I have been learning so much through open, honest, and often vulnerable conversations and collaboration sessions across stores, manufacturing plants, and in the Starbucks Support Center,” he continued. “It’s clear we’re living in a changing world where economic, societal, and operational pressures are colliding. We’re seeing unprecedented cultural division and economic trauma – all while navigating a pandemic, and it seems as though every day there is a new crisis to address.”

The decision was not without its skeptics, however, particularly among the unionized sector of Starbucks.

“Is this bargaining in good faith @HowardSchultz @Starbucks,” Starbucks Workers United Seattle tweeted. “We will not let them get away with this.”

In June, Starbucks workers at an Ithaca, New York, store insisted that their location was being shuttered in retaliation for union activism.

The union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board, stating that the company has made “a clear attempt to scare workers across the country.”

Stacey Brown photo

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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