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Southern AZ Starbucks stores close as part of nationwide training

01 June 2018

The move was triggered by the arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks location on April 12.

That comes as Starbucks prepares to close 8,000 US stores Tuesday to hold unconscious bias training sessions for employees in response to the arrests of two black men in Philadelphia last month at one of its stores.

The announcement came after public uproar over the arrest of two black men at a Starbucks in Philadelphia who were waiting for a friend.

The coffee chain is trying to tackle the issue of racial bias at thousands of its stores nationwide. Many of the Starbucks locations in retail stores, airports, or on campuses will remain open for regular hours Tuesday.

Starbucks will temporarily shut down about 8,000 company-owned locations across the USA on Tuesday to offer 175,000 employees mandatory anti-bias training.

More companies should host similar training for their staff because racial bias exists across industries, said Jim Vincent, president of the NAACP Providence Branch.

"My first thought was it's unfortunate that it even took place and then my second thought was for the employee who actually called 9-1-1", says local Starbucks customer Jo Lepley.

Beginning at 11:30 a.m. ET, more than 8,000 company-owned stores across the nation will begin to close for the four hours of training. Those two men told ABC's Robin Roberts they want to see long-term change.

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Starbucks signed a US$7 billion licensing deal with Nestle earlier this month that banks on the power of its brand in the United States to strengthen the Swiss company's leading position globally.

They'll also continue working with organizations like the Anti-Defamation League, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, UnidosUS, Muslim Advocates, as well as representatives of LGBTQ groups, religious groups, people with disabilities, and more to ensure the correct treatment of its customers.

"What (Starbucks is) doing today- they're educating".

Starbucks has always sought to portray its stores as neighborhood-friendly spaces, but its rules about bathroom use and hanging out by non-customers has been up to the discretion of local managers.

In an open letter emailed to customers Tuesday morning, Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz said "Starbucks will close stores and offices to discuss how to make Starbucks a place where all people feel welcome".

"My thing is give us a chance", said Pugh.

"I think another way that they should be thinking about is who it is that they are hiring to be in management positions", Gaither said.

Starbucks said it would make its training curriculum and content available to the public after Tuesday.

Southern AZ Starbucks stores close as part of nationwide training