Thousands of Starbucks employees at over 200 stores in the United States have gone on a one-day strike, as they protest for improved staffing and schedules, during the company’s busiest day of the year, Red Cup Day.
On Thursday, the Workers United union decided to go on strike on Starbucks’ annual Red Cup Day, which is the company’s busiest day of the year. On Red Cup Day, Starbucks workers hand out thousands of free reusable red go-cups to all customers who purchase a holiday drink.
The union stated that it was anticipating over 5,000 employees would participate in its “Red Cup Rebellion.”
The Workers United union shared a news release on Monday, requesting the coffee company to “stop illegally refusing to bargain with baristas over staffing, scheduling, and other issues.”
Additionally, workers have asked Starbucks to turn off the mobile ordering feature on the company’s app on future promotion days.
Workers who are participating in the walk out are also visiting colleagues at non-union Starbucks stores across their areas, asking them to join the union.
The news release also stated that employees filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board earlier this fall due to Starbucks’ reluctance to engage in negotiations on promotion days.
“Promotion days like Red Cup Day, half-off ThursYays and Buy One Get One Free offers cause a flood of customers to stores without any additional staffing to cover the influx of orders,” the union claimed in the release.
“Starbucks workers can’t keep working with such short staffing,” Neha Cremin, a barista in Oklahoma City, wrote in the news release. “At my store, we’re expected to make drive-thru orders, walk-up orders, mobile orders, and delivery orders. This is difficult enough to manage with a fully-staffed floor, but we’re often expected to manage all these things with only three workers.”
Juniper Schweitzer, who has been an employee at Starbucks for 16 years, mentioned that she adores the company and its ideals, but feels that they have not delivered enough benefits for employees.
“They have promised the world to us and they have not delivered,” Schweitzer said on Thursday while she was picketing outside her Chicago store. “Frequent promotions like Red Cup Day or buy one-get one free offers put added stress on workers, who have no ability to switch off mobile orders or otherwise control the workflow. I mean, you can imagine the Starbucks orders. Decaf grande non-fat, three-and-a-half Splenda mocha with no whip. Multiply that by 100 and you have just drink, drink, drink, drink, drink, drink, drink. We just have basically an infinite amount of drinks and we’re understaffed and we’re underpaid and we’re sick of it.”
As a result, Starbucks spokesperson Andrew Trull shared a statement regarding the strike.
“We are aware that Workers United has publicized a day of action at a small subset of our U.S. stores,” Trull said. “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 working to negotiate contracts for those they represent. As we join together to uplift the holiday season and reflect on the past year, we again call on Workers United to fulfill their obligations and engage in the work of negotiating first contracts on behalf of the partners they represent. Starbucks remains ready to progress in-person negotiations with the unions certified to represent partners.”
On Thursday, Starbucks announced that several stores with striking employees stayed open, operated by supervisors, managers, and employees who decided not to participate in the strike or visited from nearby stores to pick up more hours.
“We have nearly 10,000 stores open right now delighting our customers with the joy of Red Cup Day,” Starbucks said.