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Starbucks closing 16 stores over employee-safety concerns – News Opener

Starbucks Corp. said Monday that it is closing 16 U.S. stores after workers reported incidents related to drug use and other disruptions in cafes.

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said it would permanently close six stores each in the Seattle and Los Angeles areas, two in Portland, Ore., and single locations in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. by the end of the month.

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.

“We read every incident report you file — it’s a lot,” wrote U.S. operations leads Debbie Stroud and Denise Nelson in a message to U.S. employees Monday. “We cannot serve as partners if we don’t first feel safe at work,” they said, referring to the company’s term for employees.

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.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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