More than 2,000 workers at 112 Starbucks locations are set to walk out for a day on Thursday, according to the union that organized the stores last year.
The union says it is striking to protest retaliation against union supporters across the country. He also objects to what he characterizes as the company’s refusal to bargain with the union on its first labor contract. There are 264 stores that voted in favor of union representation. However, such contracts have not yet been discussed in stores that voted nearly a year ago.
“This is to show them we’re not playing,” said Tyler Kieling, a 26-year-old union activist who has worked at a Starbucks in Lakewood, California, near Los Angeles, for the past six years. “We have ended their retaliation against the union and their walk away from the deal.”
Keeling and other union supporters say it’s up to each store to decide whether to participate in a nationwide walkout. Many stores have already held short strikes due to certain issues. But this is the first nationwide action.
“There’s a lot of fear before a store decides to go on strike,” said Michelle Eisen, an organizer at the first Starbucks store to vote in favor of a union last December. “Starbucks is responding to union leaders across the country. But despite this fear, more than 2,000 workers across the country are striking today and standing up for each other.
When the Keeling store staged a one-day strike in August, Starbucks ( SBUX ) workers from nearby non-union stores joined the picket line, and some customers brought food and drinks to the strikers.
It is unclear how many of the stores affected by Thursday’s action may remain open during the holiday.
The protest coincides with “Red Cup” day at Starbucks, which offers reusable holiday cups with certain beverage purchases that entitle customers to discounts on future purchases and additional bonus points.
“Cultural Red Cup Day is an important day at Starbucks. People go crazy about it,” Keeling said. He said holding the strike on a busy day is a great way to draw attention to anti-union activities.
The union is calling the strike the “Red Cup Riot” and instead is handing out red Starbucks Labor Union union cups to customers.
At a store in front of the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York, workers crossed the picket line even though their store does not have a union vote until December 8. The store was open with the help of managers imported from other countries. shops according to vacationers. Employees at the store would not comment on the strike.
Aaron Cirillo, 23, who has worked at the store since August, said he was not discouraged by the fact that the store was able to stay open or that many customers crossed the picket line.
“We are not trying to scare them. We just want them to hear our story about the need for a fair contract.” When asked what she would tell customers if possible, she said, “I would encourage them to consider showing support by not drinking coffee for a day, or going to another shop in town for a coffee.”
The strikers’ chants were enough to make some customers turn away, but the store had a good flow of customers.
The company could not be reached for comment on Thursday regarding the strike. In the past, he has denied retaliating against any workers for their support of the union and blamed the union for a lack of progress at the bargaining table. Starbucks has defended the firing of union supporters as the proper enforcement of rules that apply to all of its employees, which it calls “associates.”
“Interest in the association does not exempt partners from following the policies and procedures applicable to all partners,” Starbucks said in an earlier statement.
But this week, the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees union representation voting, filed a national cease-and-desist order in federal court to prevent Starbucks from retaliating against union supporters.
The NLRB filing said there was a “number and pattern of unfair labor practices … particularly firings” against union supporters at Starbucks’ stores.