Is the Starbucks controversy valid?

ORIGINAL customer protest in Los Angeles against Starbucks’ support for Palestine. (Los Angeles Loyolan)

Taylor Van Dijk | Opinion Editor

February 5, 2024

With a Starbucks coffee right around the corner from San Clemente High School, students flock to the esteemed coffee shop before, after, and even during school. There is no denying that there is a reason why Starbucks is so popular amongst teenagers: it has a reliable taste, is near most places, and does not break the bank like other local coffee shops. In fact, there are eight Starbucks locations within a three-mile radius of SCHS. However, given the recent controversy, is this a business we should continue to support as informed members of society?

The public’s issues with Starbucks began back in October 2023 with their stance on the Middle East Crisis. The Worker’s Union of Starbucks sent out a post on Instagram expressing their support for Palestine in the Israel-Hamas conflict. This began a federal lawsuit between Starbucks and their Worker’s Union began when Starbucks sued for trademark infringement and the Worker’s Union countersued for defamation.

While first angered by the original worker’s union comment, Starbucks’ customers became more enraged with the official statement against the workers’ union. Since then, customers have been boycotting the chain on social media and confronting workers in-store. 

WORKERS protest against Starbucks corporation. (Newsweek)

This resulted in a 9.4% stock market decline in one month.

The controversy continued as a result of Starbucks’ alleged anti-union sentiments. Starbucks union members have alleged that the chain takes every opportunity to suppress labor movements such as walkouts and pay-increase demands by closing stores and fining workers. Customers have taken to boycotting the company to protect against corporate infringement.

With Starbucks being such a prevalent hotspot in student life, some students have decided to boycott the chain. Junior Emily Ohman said, “I like Starbucks, but I think as a corporation they have proven to be pretty controversial and it is easy to just take my business elsewhere.”

On the other hand, some do not see the point in trying to take down such a large corporation or simply are unaware of the internet backlash. Junior Grace Pratt said, “I didn’t even know there was a boycott until recently, but I will have to look more into it before I make up my mind.” 

With the knowledge of the controversy in mind, is a widespread boycott of Starbucks a valid movement, or is it another example of widespread internet culture? Furthermore, is the controversy the reason for the decline in Starbucks stock, or are people straying away from the chain in favor of smaller more current coffee locations? 

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