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Thursday, February 29, 2024
State Street Starbucks

Starbucks declines to implement sharp object containers for State Street location

The State Street Starbucks location's request for sharp object containers was declined by management after receiving prior confirmation that an order had been put in by the district manager.

Starbucks management declined the State Street location’s request for sharp object containers after company representatives said the containers had been ordered more than a month ago. 

Shift supervisor Matthew Cartwright and 31 other employees signed a petition on Sept. 28 demanding a safe option for needle disposal within the store. Within 24 hours, the location’s district manager, Ann Newton, responded confirming an order had been put in for sharp objects containers, according to Cartwright.

However, in a letter addressed to State Street Starbucks on Nov. 1, partner relations consultant Camille Arnold said the store would not require sharp object containers because she is confident the store was provided with safe working conditions compliant with state and federal safety regulations.

“After completing our assessment around installing of the sharp containers, we have found that the circumstances do not rise to the level that qualifies for sharp containers,” Arnold said.

Starbucks spokesperson Andrew Trull told The Daily Cardinal the most “appropriate and effective investment to mitigate current issues” is to install restroom timers. 

“In alignment with company standards and practices, modifications to the store’s restrooms were completed last week,” Trull said. “Our team will continue to review, assess and address issues present in area stores to help maintain a welcoming environment for our partners and customers.”

The store has begun to install the restroom timers. The timers are lights that indicate when an individual has been in the bathroom “too long,” according to Cartwright. The limit is eight minutes. 

“While the light might help create a sense of security by making workers bathroom monitors, it won't do much to stop a needle in a trashcan,” Cartwright said.

Newton previously told workers, local journalists and community members the containers were on backorder — a claim for which there is no evidence, Cartwright said.

“I asked, ‘How can I get any more information on this?’ And she said, ‘I don't know,’” Cartwright said. “I told her myself our workers and members of the community are very invested in this and they want updates on it. And she said, ‘I'm glad you care.’”

Cartwright claimed Newton had previously been unresponsive to workers about the status of sharps containers during store visits.

“She has very little interest in talking to workers,” Cartwright said. “When she comes in, she deals with our store manager and ignores everyone else.” 

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On Oct. 3, a local Madison organization stopped by the store with free sharp object containers and other safety supplies. Newton forbade the State Street location from keeping them, according to Cartwright.

Newton did not respond to the Cardinal’s request for comment. 

“It's definitely not surprising that corporate told something untrue to workers, community members and reporters,” Cartwright said. “However it's surprising they would mislead everyone this long.”

Starbucks workers have continued to fight for a contract after filing for unionization on June 1 following strikes and what workers called union busting attempts from upper management.

“We're going to keep putting pressure on them to actually give us a contract or at least sit down and talk to us,” Cartwright said.

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