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Closure of Vancouver’s Sole Unionized Starbucks Scheduled for This Month

Just six months after staff unionized at a Vancouver Starbucks outlet—one of four unionized Starbucks locations in British Columbia—the corporate head office says the store will be closing.

The store, located on Dunbar Street, will close its doors by the end of September, according to Leanna Rizzi, a spokesperson for the company. She told The Epoch Times on Sept. 5 that the closure is due to a “natural lease expiry” at the location.

“As a standard practice, we continually evaluate our store portfolio to ensure it meets the needs of our partners, customers and the communities we serve. When we approach the end of a lease, we consider a number of factors for renewal,” said Ms. Rizzi.

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According to Ms. Rizzi, as one of the smallest stores in the Starbucks portfolio, it wasn’t financially possible to renovate the location, but the coffee chain will offer employees an opportunity to work in another outlet.

“Outcomes of a regular business review, such as a lease expiry, are made without regard to union status and are intended to advance the Starbucks Experience,” said the spokesperson.

In February, 22 Starbucks workers voted to join the United Steelworkers Union. The drive was started by Frédérique Martineau, a 20-year-old employee who said the store was understaffed and employees could not take breaks, according to a report from The Tyee.

There are four stores in B.C. represented by the union, as well as some stores in Alberta and Ontario.

In an interview, Scott Lunny, a spokesman for the United Steelworkers in Western Canada, said he did not think the store closure was related to the union.

“It wasn’t out of the blue that the Dunbar location was potentially not sustainable from Starbucks’ perspective,” Mr. Lunny said in an interview. “We‘re still working through that and we’re trying to do the best we can to look out for those workers.”

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