In their greatest walkout since a push to unionise the company’s stores started late last year, Starbucks employees at more than 100 US locations are on strike this Thursday.
The walkouts fall on Red Cup Day, when Starbucks offers free reusable cups to consumers who purchase holiday beverages. One of the busiest days of the year, according to employees.
Workers say they’re seeking better pay, more consistent schedules and higher staffing levels in busy stores. Stores in 25 states planned to take part in the labour action, according to Starbucks Workers United, the group organising the effort. Strikers are handing out their own red cups with union logos.
Starbucks, which opposes the unionisation effort, said it is aware of the walkouts and respects its employees’ right to lawfully protest. The Seattle company noted that the protests are happening at a small number of its 9,000 company-run US locations.
“We remain committed to all partners and will continue to work together, side-by-side, to make Starbucks a company that works for everyone,” the company said Thursday in a statement.
Some workers planned to picket all day while others will do shorter walkouts. The union said the goal is to shut stores down during the strikes and noted that the company usually has difficulty staffing during Red Cup Day because it’s so busy.
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.
“If the company won’t bargain in good faith, why should we come to work where we are understaffed, underpaid and overworked?” Montana said.
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