Starbucks closes first unionized cafe location in Colorado Springs

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A Starbucks cafe in downtown Denver.

A Starbucks store that voted to unionize earlier this year is now being shut down by the corporation. 

Management informed baristas at the Brookside St. and Nevada Ave. store in Colorado Springs of the closure on Monday, according to a statement from the union Starbucks Workers United. Its last date of operation will be Oct. 23. 

Workers at the store voted to unionize in May. They had requested that Starbucks begin bargaining with them for their first contract on Oct. 24. 

The company confirmed the closure to CPR. A spokeswoman said the decision was due to “ongoing safety issues impacting customers and partners,” but did not offer specifics. 

"We continue to equip our partners with the training, policies and information they need to address the societal challenges that cross our store thresholds every day,” the spokeswoman said. “But when these efforts aren’t enough to ensure our partners’ safety, we will make the decision to close a store, regardless of its revenue or union status."

Starbucks representatives plan to meet with workers this week to discuss transferring them to another location, the spokeswoman said. 

Baristas immediately cast doubt on the stated reasoning for the closure. 

“Our safety has never been a concern for them. No matter how many times we begged for different safety measures to be put in place,” said Spencer Estabrooks, a barista at the store. “So the sudden closure 'due to safety concerns' feels like they're trying to silence us."

The Brookside and Nevada shop is one of 8 stores in the state that have unionized amid a national wave of organizing. Workers at other union shops have filed complaints with federal regulators of unfair firings of union supporters, which the company denies. 

Union organizers say the company has permanently closed at least 9 other union stores across the country.

All other union stores in Denver, Greeley and Superior remain open.