WASHINGTON – Starbucks workers at more than 100 US stores said they would go on strike Thursday, marking the biggest labor action since the company’s campaign to unionize its stores late last year.
The strikes are timed to coincide with Starbucks’ annual Red Cup Day, when the company hands out free reusable cups to customers who order a holiday drink. Workers say it is often one of the busiest days of the year. Starbucks declined to say how many red cups it plans to distribute.
Workers say they are looking for better pay, more consistent hours and higher staffing levels in busier stores. Starbucks opposes the unionization effort, saying that the company works best when it works directly with employees. coffee giants seattle There are over 9,000 company-owned stores in the US.
According to Starbucks Workers United, the group organizing the effort, stores in 25 states plan to participate in the labor action. Some workers planned to sit for the whole day, while others planned a short strike. The union said the goal is to close the shops during the strike.
Willow Montana, a shift manager at a Starbucks store in Brighton, Massachusetts, plans to strike because Starbucks has not opened talks with the store despite a successful union vote in April.
“If the company won’t negotiate in good faith, why should we go to work where we are understaffed, paid less and do more work?” Montana said.
Buffalo, New York
Others, including Michelle Essen, a union organizer at one of the first stores to organize in Buffalo, New York, said workers were angry that Starbucks had promised higher wages and benefits to non-union stores. Starbucks says it is following the law and cannot expand unionized stores without bargaining.
At least 257 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize since late last year, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Voting has been held in fifty-seven shops in which the workers have decided not to form a union.
Starbucks Workers United said Starbucks and the union have begun contract negotiations at 53 stores, with an additional 13 sessions scheduled. No agreement has been reached so far.
The process has been controversial. Earlier this week, an NLRB regional director filed an injunction request against Starbucks in federal court, saying the company violated labor law when it fired a union organizer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The regional director asked the court to order Starbucks to reinstate the employee and to stop interfering with the nationwide union campaign.