Portland’s downtown Congress Street Starbucks is not festooned with Pride decorations inside or outside the store two weeks into Pride month, and just three days before the city’s Pride parade and festival this Saturday.
This comes as Starbucks workers’ union, Starbucks Workers United, alleged on Tuesday that the company’s corporate management asked workers in several states to take down their store’s Pride decorations over the last two weeks.
“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 in a tweet Tuesday.
After Target removed some Pride-themed displays, including “tuck friendly” swimsuits, stores in New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Louisiana, Ohio, Utah, and Pennsylvania received violent threats alleging a betrayal of the LGBTQ+ community, according to the New York Post.
On Wednesday, when asked if the noticeably rainbow-less Congress Street location would be putting up Pride decorations, one barista said, “I would hope so,” but that they don’t know for sure what will happen.
Starbucks has denied the union’s allegations and reasserted the company’s commitment to support the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.
“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 U.S. Pride month in June,” Andrew Trull, a spokesperson for the company, said in a statement, according to NBC News.
Despite their denial, the Starbucks workers’ union has been sharing videos of employees saying that the allegations are true, and sharing their stories of being told by management to take down Pride décor.
One TikTok video shared by the union shows a Starbucks employee claiming that management would not let them hang up the Pride flags which were sitting in a bucket in the store’s bathroom.
“Those are our Pride flags, we have had them up every year for, I don’t know, as long as I’ve worked here,” the employee said. “This is the first year that no one hung them up, and they’re just sitting in the bathroom.”
“Starbucks says that it’s unsafe, we don’t have a ladder to be able to hang them up properly, so we’re just not going to hang them up this year,” the employee explained.
Starbucks workers have shared a petition in an attempt to convince upper management at the company to let workers put up Pride decorations.
On their website, Starbucks features an article entitled “Timeline: Starbucks history of LGBTQIA2+ inclusion,” detailing the company’s support for various pro-LGBTQ initiatives, such as awarding grants to non-profits, urging the U.S. Senate to pass the “Respect for Marriage Act,” and donating $50,000 to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Starbucks Workers United released an official statement Tuesday to rebut the claims of Starbucks upper management.
“Despite Starbucks claiming that there has been no policy change, workers across the country are speaking out and proving otherwise,” the statement reads. “This is a clear continuation of Starbucks’ anti-union campaign to intimidate workers and make them feel unwelcome in their own workplace.”
The union’s press release gives several instances of Starbucks locations where they claim the ban on Pride décor is happening, including in Wisconsin, Georgia, Ohio and Oklahoma.
“Trans and queer workers make Starbucks run, and by taking down our flag and refusing to bargain with us for a fair contract, the company is showing that they will put profit, and themselves, over the workers,” said a Starbucks worker in Columbus, Ohio.
According to the union, workers in Oklahoma were told it was for a “safety reason because of the attacks that happened at Target stores and that it was a safety concern to block the windows with flags.”
However, it’s unclear whether it was communicated that the attacks on Target came from people alleging a betrayal of the LGBTQ+ community, not people upset over Pride displays.