Starbucks, at the corner of Exchange and Middle streets in Portland’s Old Port, will close on Dec. 23. Employees recently voted to form a union. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

One month after workers at the Starbucks in Portland’s Old Port voted to form a union, the company informed those workers that the heavily trafficked store would be closed in one month.

The company said it is willing to consider transferring those workers to other stores in the greater Portland region.

The store, which is located in the heart of the Old Port district across from Tommy’s Park, will close on Dec. 23.

Starbucks says it has to vacate the space it leases in Portland’s Old Port because the building at 176 Middle St. is undergoing a renovation project.. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

A Starbucks spokesperson said Tuesday night that the owner of the building where it leases space at 176 Middle St. said it had to vacate the premises while the building undergoes renovations. Attempts to identify and contact the owner of the building were unsuccessful Tuesday night.

In its statement, Starbucks said it was willing to negotiate with union members about the option of transferring to work at another store. There are at least 20 Starbucks shops in the greater Portland area including locations in Portland, South Portland, Westbrook, Falmouth, Windham, Biddeford, Freeport, Brunswick and Topsham, according to Starbucks’ store locater map.

The decision by Starbucks Coffee Company, which is based in Seattle, angered Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, who called on the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday to conduct an investigation into what she characterized as “blatant union-busting tactics.”


“Starbucks’ decision to close one of its busiest stores in Portland less than a month after workers formed a union appears to be a brazen violation of the National Labor Relations Act,” Pingree said in a written statement. “The widespread practice of large multibillion-dollar corporations punishing workers who collectively bargain is despicable. They must be held accountable.”

A spokesperson for Starbucks said in a statement issued Tuesday night that the decision to close the store at Middle and Exchange streets came after “careful consideration” and had nothing to do with workers voting to form a union.

“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,” Starbucks said. “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.”

Starbucks did not directly address the issue of an investigation by the NLRB, but said that claims of union busting are false.

In early October, Pingree joined 30 House colleagues in urging Starbucks to support and embrace workers, who legally voted to organize unions at their stores. Pingree said she received a response from Starbucks stating that the Fortune 500 company “remains committed to good faith negotiation and satisfying all collective bargaining obligations.”


“Today we can confirm that was just lip service,” Pingree said in her statement. “The NLRB must investigate and protect workers in Maine and across the country.”

Pingree met with workers from the Exchange Street store in Portland just days before they officially formed a union on Oct. 18, 2022.

The Maine AFL-CIO also slammed Starbucks’ decision to close the store calling the company’s actions “illegal union busting.”

“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,” Maine AFL-CIO President Cynthia Phinney said in a written statement Tuesday night. “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.”

“Unfortunately, this is a pattern that is playing out across the country as these self-serving corporations seek to send a chilling message to workers seeking to organize,” Phinney continued. “We urge the NLRB to demand that Starbucks reverse its harmful decision and bargain with its employees.”


Starbucks workers reacted to the news.

“I’m heartbroken. We just got word today that corporate is closing the Portland location on Middle and Exchange Streets that just voted in favor of unionization,” Starbucks Workers United Maine said in a post on social media. “They have given the partners one month to find new jobs. This is blatant union busting.”

Attempts to reach Mandie Cantrell, the Starbucks barista who led the effort to unionize the Old Port coffee shop, were unsuccessful Tuesday evening.

The Starbucks in Biddeford became the first Maine location of the international chain of coffee shops to unionize. In July, workers at the Alfred Street store voted 9-3 to unionize as part of Starbucks Workers United. They joined a push by Starbucks workers across the country to organize and advocate for fair wages and better working conditions.

In July, Pingree called on the NLRB to investigate Chipotle for closing its Augusta store just hours after workers there filed to unionize.

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