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Some Starbucks workers say Pride Month decorations banned at stores, but the company says that's not true

As Starbucks continues to battle unionization efforts by baristas, the company has been accused by some U.S. employees of banning LGBTQ Pride decorations. The company says this isn't true and that their policy around Pride Month has not changed. 

Starbucks Workers United, the labor group leading unionization, claimed in a series of Tweets that during Pride Month, the company has for the first time disallowed Pride decorations, which "have become an annual tradition in stores."

"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 group claimed in a tweet. 

But Starbucks says there has been "no change" to its policies, and that the company "unwaveringly" supports the LGBTQ 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," the spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the company is "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."

"Starbucks has a history that includes more than four decades of recognizing and celebrating our diverse partners and customers – including year-round support for the LGBTQIA2+ community," the statement reads. The company said it empowers employees to show support for several heritage months.

On its website, Starbucks has a timeline of its history of inclusion of the LGBTQ community, starting in 1988 when the company began offering full health benefits to employees including coverage for same-sex domestic partnerships.

Starbucks Workers United claims several employees have reported the alleged ban on Pride decor. The group is calling on the company to stand up for the LGBTQ community and to negotiate union contracts "that legally locks-in our benefits, our freedom of expression, and ways to hold management accountable."

Starbucks and the labor union don't see eye to eye on a number of issues. Since October 2022, Starbucks has filed more than 100 Unfair Labor Practice charges against the union, saying they have failed to appoint representatives for several bargaining sessions and have failed to bargain in good faith. Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board accused the company of using an "array of illegal tactics" against the union, and a judge ruled the company violated labor laws "hundreds of times" during a unionization drive in Buffalo, New York.

Companies' support for Pride Month and the LGBTQ community has become a target of protests, with Target deciding to remove some Pride merchandise from their stores, saying employees had received threats. Bud Light also received backlash this year after partnering with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney, which resulted in a drop in sales of the beer.

Starbucks recently launched a collaboration with artist Tim Singleton, who designed bright, reusable cups as part of the company's Artist Collaboration Series. In an Instagram post, he referred to the six rainbow-themed cups as "this year's Pride Collection," and Starbucks describes it as "a mish-mash of pop culture, queer culture and nostalgia with bold visuals and rainbow-bright colors."

While June is a month designated for celebrating LGBTQ pride, the community has been facing an increase in threats and political backlash from the right. This year, more than 520 anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced at the state level — a record — and 74 such laws have been enacted, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

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