The Starbucks on Middle Street in Portland is pictured in this August 2022 file photo. The location is closing by Dec. 23, after workers at the coffee chain voted to form a union in October. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

The Starbucks located on Middle Street in Portland will be closing in December, after employees at that location voted to form a union in October.

Starbucks has chosen to close the location by Dec. 23, according to a spokesperson for the company. The news went public after the Starbucks Workers United Maine, which represents unionized members of the Biddeford and Portland Starbucks, discussed the closure on Twitter on Tuesday.

Employees at the Starbucks location between Middle and Exchange Street voted to unionize by a 10-3 vote on Oct. 17. In July, Starbucks workers in Biddeford   voted to unionize, in part due to what they felt was   inconsistent scheduling and low pay.

“After careful consideration, Starbucks has made the decision to close the Middle and Exchange Street store. Our last day at this location will be Friday, Dec. 23, 2022,” a company spokesperson said on Tuesday evening. “We routinely review the partner and customer experience in all our stores, to see if the store is thriving, partners are feeling supported, and that we are meeting customer needs.”

It was not clear on Tuesday when the location’s employees were notified of the imminent closure.

“Our goal is to ensure that every partner is supported in their individual situation, and we have immediate opportunities available in the market. We will bargain with the union in good faith to discuss the impact of this decision on the partners including the opportunities for transfers to other stores,” the spokesperson said.

During the Biddeford store’s effort to unionize, a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement that, “From the beginning, we’ve been clear in our belief that we are better together as partners, without a union between us, and that conviction has not changed. We respect our partner’s right to organize.”

The closure comes after Chipotle was accused of illegally closing its Augusta location after its workers voted to unionize in June. The store closed in July, claiming it had been “unable to adequately staff this remote restaurant” and that they had gone to “extraordinary lengths” to recruit new workers to no avail.

An official leading the top federal labor agency’s Boston office  in November claimed that the fast-casual chain had “closed its Augusta store and terminated the employees there because they had supported and assisted the union and engaged in concerted activities.”

Cynthia Phinney, president of the Maine American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organization, called the Starbucks closure “illegal union busting” and “a blatant violation” of workers’ rights on Tuesday.

“Less than a month after workers at the Starbucks in the Old Port voted overwhelmingly to unionize, the company — in an act of illegal union busting — has announced it is closing the store. This is the most egregious anti-union tactic and it is a blatant violation of the right of workers to unionize free from retaliation under the National Labor Relations Act,” Phinney said.

“We urge the National Labor Relations Board to demand that Starbucks reverse its harmful decision and bargain with its employees.”

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.