Starbucks CEO Informed Staff Members That “Misrepresentation” on Social Media, Fueling Protest Against Company Stance on Israel-hamas War

Laxman Narasimhan, the CEO of Starbucks, informed staff members this week in a memo that “misrepresentation on social media” is the driving force behind the demonstrations against the company’s position on the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Though it was the first time Narasimhan publicly addressed the protests, the company had previously reaffirmed its position on the conflict and denounced the international violence that began with the Hamas strikes on Israel on October 7. The message to employees was uploaded to the company’s website on Tuesday.

Starbucks CEO Informed Staff Members That Misrepresentation on Social Media, Fueling Protest Against Company Stance on Israel-hamas War (1)

“Cities around the world — including here in North America — have seen escalating protests,” Narasimhan claimed. Vandalism has occurred in a number of our stores. We witness demonstrators who have been swayed by false representations of our values on social media.”

To guarantee the safety of its employees and clients, the business has been collaborating with law enforcement. But Narasimhan, who joined the company less than a year ago, emphasized worries that the conflicts occurring in many regions of the world have “unleashed violence against the innocent, hate and weaponized speech, and lies,” all of which the company claims to reject.

His concerns stemmed from the fact that some were mistaking remarks made by Workers United—an organization that is organizing Starbucks employees—for opinions that the firm held.

After Workers United posted a now-deleted statement expressing its “support for violence perpetrated by Hamas,” the company filed a lawsuit against the union in October.

Starbucks CEO Informed Staff Members That Misrepresentation on Social Media, Fueling Protest Against Company Stance on Israel-hamas War (2)

The Starbucks Workers United account wrote “Solidarity with Palestine!” on X shortly after Hamas stormed southern Israel on October 7. Starbucks filed a lawsuit against Workers United for utilizing its name, logo, and intellectual property in an attempt to separate itself from the organization.

“The actions taken by the union have nothing to do with its representation of the minority of partners who voted for them to bargain on their behalf,” the business stated in a prior release, adding that “their continued statements have led to Starbucks partners, including some they represent, being threatened and subjected to graphic messages.”

Workers United, including its local affiliates, union organizers, and individuals who identify as “Starbucks Workers United,” according to the corporation, “do not speak for Starbucks Coffee Company and do not represent our company’s views, positions, or beliefs.”

The union, however, claimed that the message was “not authorized by the leadership of Workers United or Starbucks Workers United, and it was deleted after approximately 30-40 minutes” in a complaint brought in Pennsylvania.

According to court filings, Workers United also requested permission to continue using the name and a corresponding logo from a Pennsylvanian court, claiming that “Workers United have maintained an identity that is independent of that of Starbucks.”

Several businesses, including Starbucks, have been put under pressure to publicly express their stance on the conflict, which began on October 7 when terrorists from Hamas invaded Israel from the Gaza Strip. In response, the Israeli government declared war. Israeli soldiers have since conducted many airstrikes and raids into the Gaza Strip.

Over 20,000 Palestinians are said to have died at the hands of Israel and 1.9 million have been forced to flee their homes since the conflict began, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza, which is run by Hamas.

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