Today at Starbucks, a 'Red Cup Rebellion'

Staffers at 200-plus US stores will walk off job on Thursday to protest company's anti-union stance
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 16, 2023 8:37 AM CST
Today at Starbucks, a 'Red Cup Rebellion'
Starbucks employees and supporters link arms during a union election watch party on Dec. 9, 2021, in Buffalo, New York. Thousands of US Starbucks workers plan to walk off the job on Thursday—one of the chain's busiest days of the year—to protest the company's anti-union stance.   (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex, File)

Thousands of workers at more than 200 US Starbucks stores plan to walk off the job Thursday in what organizers say is the largest strike yet in the two-year-old effort to unionize the company's stores. The Workers United union chose Starbucks' annual Red Cup Day to stage the walkout, as it's usually one of the busiest days of the year. Starbucks expects to give away thousands of reusable cups Thursday to customers who order holiday drinks. The union said it was expecting more than 5,000 workers to take part in its "Red Cup Rebellion," per the AP. Around 30 stores also staged walkouts on Wednesday. Neha Cremin, a Starbucks barista in Oklahoma City, said she was striking to protest understaffing in stores, especially during promotions like Red Cup Day.

Cremin said workers are already overwhelmed filling delivery orders, drive-thru orders, mobile orders, and in-store orders; promotions add another layer of stress. "Understaffing hurts workers and also creates an unpleasant experience for customers," Cremin said. "Starbucks has made it clear that they won't listen to workers, so we're advocating for ourselves by going on strike." Thursday's strike was the fifth major labor action by Starbucks workers since a store in Buffalo, New York, became the first to unionize in late 2021. Workers at 110 stores walked out last year on Red Cup Day; most recently, a strike in June protested reports that Starbucks had removed Pride displays from its stores.

But the strikes have had little impact on Starbucks' sales. For its 2023 fiscal year, which ended Oct. 1, Starbucks reported its revenue rose 12%, to a record $36.0 billion. Starbucks downplayed any potential impact of the strike Wednesday, saying it would occur at a "small subset" of the company's 9,600 company-owned US stores. "We remain committed to working with all partners, side by side, to elevate the everyday, and we hope that Workers United's priorities will shift to include the shared success of our partners and negotiating contracts for those they represent," Starbucks said in a statement. At least 363 company-operated Starbucks stores in 41 states have voted to unionize since late 2021. Starbucks opposes the unionization effort and has yet to reach a labor agreement with any of the stores that have voted to unionize. More here.

(More Starbucks stories.)

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