Why Commuters Are Disappointed In A Major Starbucks Closure

The Starbucks location at Union Station in Washington D.C. served its last latte on Sunday. The popular chain recently announced plans to shutter the Union Station location, along with 15 other stores, due to concerns over safety, according to The Washington Post. Union Station is among the busiest commuter hubs in the country, with around 70,000 people passing through it each day, so news of the Starbucks closure is sure to upset many commuters' morning and afternoon routines (via Amtrak). Regardless, the chain expressed concerns over its ability to ensure the continued safety of staff, leading to a decision to close the store.

News of the closure comes on the heels of ongoing concerns over safety in stores nationwide, as CEO Howard Schultz recently discussed plans to reverse the chain's public bathroom policy. Shultz has decided to reserve bathroom use for customers only in an effort to make stores safer for staff (per New York Times). "There is an issue of just safety in our stores in terms of people coming in who use our stores as a public bathroom," he said of the decision.

Starbucks is shuttering locations due to safety concerns

A Starbucks spokesperson explained the reason for the 16 store closures was due to "a high volume of challenging incidents that make it unsafe to continue to operate," (per The Washington Post). Concerns include drug use, mental illness, and homelessness in the surrounding communities, which has worsened throughout the pandemic and may impact the safety of staff employed at these stores. While the Union Station Starbucks is no longer operating, Union Station itself will be undergoing a $10 billion redevelopment program intended to revamp the major transit hub.

Some people suspect that Starbucks' decision to close the Union Station store is not entirely driven by safety concerns, but by efforts to crack down on union organization among the chain's workers. Metro Washington Labor Council President Dyana Foreste told Axios the stores "were in the process of organizing. It's union-busting and we will not stand for it." This isn't the first time Starbucks has been accused of union-busting, however, the company denies that this is the reason behind its decision to close its stores.