Strike Hits Starbucks on One of Its Busiest Days

More than 2K employees at 112 stores call for higher pay, good-faith bargaining
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 17, 2022 8:22 AM CST
Strike Hits Starbucks on One of Its Busiest Days
The Starbucks logo is displayed in the window of a downtown Pittsburgh Starbucks on Monday, Nov. 7, 2022.   (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

More than 2,000 Starbucks workers at 112 US stores say they're going on strike Thursday in what would be the largest labor action since a campaign to unionize the company's stores began late last year. The walkouts are scheduled to coincide with Starbucks' annual Red Cup Day, when the company gives free reusable cups to customers who order a holiday drink. Workers say it’s often one of the busiest days of the year, per the AP. They say they're seeking better pay, more consistent schedules, and higher staffing levels in busy stores. They're also protesting alleged retaliation taken against union supporters nationwide, per CNN. Starbucks opposes the unionization effort, saying the company functions best when it works directly with employees.

The Seattle coffee giant has more than 9,000 company-owned stores in the US. Stores in 25 states planned to take part in the labor action, according to Starbucks Workers United, the group organizing the effort. Some workers planned to picket all day while others planned shorter walkouts. The union said the goal is to shut the stores down during the walkouts. Willow Montana, a shift manager at a Starbucks store in Brighton, Massachusetts, planned to strike because Starbucks hasn't begun bargaining with the store despite a successful union vote in April. At least 257 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize since late last year, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Fifty-seven stores have held votes where workers opted not to unionize.

"If the company won't bargain in good faith, why should we come to work where we are understaffed, underpaid, and overworked?" Montana said. Others, including Michelle Eisen, a union organizer at one of the first stores to organize in Buffalo, New York, said workers are angry that Starbucks promised higher pay and benefits to non-union stores. Starbucks says it is following the law and can't give union stores pay hikes without bargaining. Starbucks and the union have begun contract talks at 53 stores, with 13 additional sessions scheduled, Starbucks Workers United said. No agreements have been reached so far. (Read more Starbucks stories.)

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