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Vancouver's only unionized Starbucks set to close

Vancouver's only unionized Starbucks, located on Dunbar Street, is shutting down at the end of September, the company has confirmed. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Vancouver's only unionized Starbucks, located on Dunbar Street, is shutting down at the end of September, the company has confirmed. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

The only unionized Starbucks outlet in Vancouver will shut down at the end of September.

Leanna Rizzi, a spokesperson for the Seattle-based coffee chain, confirmed the closure of the Dunbar Street location via email, saying the move is due to the lease expiring.

Rizzi said the store is one of the smallest in the Starbucks portfolio and it wasn't possible to make necessary investments to renovate it. She said workers at the store will have an opportunity to transfer to a nearby location.

Scott Lunny, director for the United Steelworkers union (USW) in western and northern Canada which represents the Dunbar Street workers, said the union was aware of questions around the lease renewal.

"I have no hesitation saying some of the things Starbucks has done certainly here and definitely in the U.S. is very much anti-union in terms of tactics and anti-union strategies, but I'm not sure I have any evidence or proof to back that up in the terms of the Dunbar store closure," said Lunny.

"If you drive up Dunbar you can see there's construction everywhere and it's probably pretty uncertain what's going to happen with some of those buildings... So, it wasn't a complete surprise that they didn't renew the lease for that location."

Twenty-two workers at the Dunbar location voted to join the USW in February, joining two other Metro Vancouver Starbucks — Clayton Heights in Surrey and Valley Centre in Langley — in beginning negotiations for a collective agreement.

Around the same time, workers at non-unionized shops in B.C. were given pay increases.

USW filed an unfair labour practice complaint with the B.C. Labour Relations Board for denial of wage increases for employees at the three unionized Metro Vancouver stores. Last month, Starbucks agreed to give those workers wage increases retroactive to May 15.

USW also represents workers at a Starbucks in Victoria that has negotiated a collective agreement, including annual wage increases.

Stores in Alberta and Ontario have also been organized by USW, including a one in Ajax, Ont., where workers voted to unionize last week.

In November 2022 workers at more than 100 Starbucks locations in the U.S. walked off the job in a protest against working conditions.