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Starbucks has added to the number of stores that it says it is closing around the country "after workers reported incidents related to drug use and other disruptions in cafes."   The number now is 16, and include six in Los Angeles areas, two in Portland, Ore., and one each in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., in addition to the six closures already announced in Seattle.

The closures are slated to occur by the end of the month.

The Wall Street Journal writes that "the company said it received reports from workers about incidents that they said involved drug use by some customers and in some cases, members of the public, in certain locations. Starbucks said it would transfer employees to other locations when it permanently closes the stores … Starbucks also said that it would give store managers leeway to close restrooms, limit seating or reduce operations in response to safety concerns. The moves are part of policies aimed at addressing workers’ concerns, including about their safety on the job, the company said.

"Managers can continue to change store layouts if needed, including limiting seating to customers, the spokeswoman said. The company said it would provide additional guidance to baristas in how to deal with active shooter scenarios and conflict de-escalation at work."

“Like so much of the world right now, the Starbucks business as it is built today is not set up to fully satisfy the evolving behaviors, needs and expectations of our partners or customers,” Howard Schultz, the company's past and current CEO, wrote in a letter to employees this week.

KC's View:

Yikes.

It so happens that I'm very familiar with one of the Starbucks locations being closed in Portland - it is about a block away from the Apple Store, across the street from Pioneer Place shopping center, right on the light rail line that I used to take into the city from PDX, and about a half-mile from the apartment where I used to stay each summer.  (I used to walk past this Starbucks in the morning on my way to Stumptown Coffee.). It is distressing to hear that things have gotten so bad in that neighborhood that Starbucks has to close down the store.

One thing, though … there are at least some whispers out there that the real misbehavior that Starbucks is worried about is unionization.  I hope that's not the case here, that Starbucks is making neighborhoods look worse than they are because it wants to disrupt labor organizers.  Because that would be awful, and the very definition of poor citizenship, especially at a delicate time in the lives of some cities and neighborhoods.