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Starbucks is closing Portland store after successful union vote

This is a Starbucks sign outside of a downtown Pittsburgh Starbucks on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022.
Gene J. Puskar
This is a Starbucks sign outside of a downtown Pittsburgh Starbucks on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022.

The Maine AFL-CIO says Starbucks told workers at its store in Portland's Old Port that it plans to close the location in a month.

Workers at the location voted to unionize in October. The AFL-CIO's Andy O'Brien called Tuesday's announcement by Starbucks a blatant violation of the right to organize.

"This is really like the worst form of union busting and it's playing out all over the country. We saw this in Maine not too long ago with Chipotle closing the store amid a union organizing effort in Augusta," O'Brien said. "This is clearly meant to send a chilling message to other workers who want to organize."

The National Labor Relations Board ordered Chipotle to reopen and reinstate workers in Augusta, and O'Brien said he hopes the board will do the same for the Portland Starbucks.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree also accused Starbucks of union busting at one of the busiest locations in her district. On Twitter, she posted a letter she received from Starbucks that said the company "remains committed to good faith negotiation and satisfying all collective bargaining obligations." She called on the NLRB to investigate the planned closure.

A spokesperson for Starbucks says the company regularly opens and closes stores as a part of business operations and the decision to close the Portland location has nothing to do with efforts to unionize. The spokesperson says it's not renewing its lease and must vacate the building by January.

In a statement, the company says it will "bargain with the union in good faith to discuss the impact of the decision including opportunities to transfer to other stores."