Nov 17, 2022 - Economy

Starbucks workers strike at over 100 stores on Red Cup Day

Starbucks Workers United t-shirts hang outside while unionized workers strike.

Starbucks Workers United T-shirts hang outside while unionized workers strike. Photo: M. Scott Brauer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

It may be Red Cup Day for Starbucks, but workers at over 100 stores are holding their own "Red Cup Rebellion" by striking on Thursday.

The big picture: It's the latest dispute between Starbucks and the union, Starbucks Workers United, which has accused the coffee company of illegal firings and interfering with workers' rights.

Driving the news: The employees say they are going on a one-day strike "in response to Starbucks' union-busting tactics and refusal to bargain," Starbucks Workers United said in a press release emailed to Axios.

  • The protesters are calling their strike the "Red Cup Rebellion" and handing out red Starbucks Workers United cups to customers, according to the union.
  • "This is the biggest coordinated national action taken by union Starbucks stores in the campaign's history," the union said.
  • Starbucks Workers United did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Zoom out: The protests come on Red Cup Day, one of the most popular days of the year for the coffee giant. Starbucks gives out free reusable cups when people order holiday drinks, Axios' Kelly Tyko writes.

What they're saying: “From short staffing and labor cuts, to Starbucks and their representatives barging out from bargaining sessions, we’re demanding that Starbucks act in good faith like they claim, and cease their anti-union campaign against us workers," said Tyler Keeling, a union supporter from a Starbucks in California, in a statement provided to Axios by Starbucks Workers United.

  • The union picked Thursday for its strike because there's a heavy volume of customers, Keeling said, which will draw more attention.
  • "We’ve chosen to strike today, on Red Cup Day, intentionally," he said. "We want everyone, including Starbucks, to know that we know our rights and are acting within the law, and we want the contract that we are legally entitled to. We’re ready to bargain when they are.”
  • Starbucks barista Josie Serrano told NPR that the decision to protest on Red Cup Day is symbolic of the group's bigger goal of shining a light on staffing issues.

A Starbucks representative told Axios in an email that it is "aware that union demonstrations are scheduled at a small number" of stores across the U.S.

  • "In those locations where partners choose to participate, we respect their right to engage in lawful protest activity — though our focus has been, and continues to be, on uplifting the Starbucks experience for our partners and customers," said Andrew Trull, the senior manager of corporate communications for Starbucks, in an email.
  • Trull said Starbucks has engaged with the union group "in a good faith effort to move the bargaining process forward."

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