Starbucks employees at more than 100 U.S. outlets go on strike on Thursday, their greatest labor action since a drive to unionize the company’s businesses began in late 2017.
The walkouts coincide with Starbucks’ annual Red Cup Day, during which the business provides free reusable cups to consumers who purchase holiday beverages. According to workers, it is commonly one of the busiest days of the year. Starbucks refused to disclose the quantity of red cups it intends to give.
In crowded retail establishments, workers want better pay, more stable schedules, and more personnel. According to Starbucks Workers United, the group sponsoring the effort, stores in 25 states intended to participate in the labor action. The striking workers are handing out red cups with union logos.
Starbucks, which opposes the unionization campaign, acknowledged the walkouts and stated that it respects the legal right of its employees to demonstrate. The Seattle-based corporation said that protests are occurring at a small fraction of its 9,000 corporate-owned outlets in the United States.
Starbucks stated Thursday in a statement, “We remain dedicated to all partners and will continue to work together, side by side, to create Starbucks a company that works for everyone.”
Some workers intend to picket for the entire day, while others may engage in shorter walkouts. The union stated that the purpose of the strikes is to close businesses, and emphasized that the company had problems staffing around Red Cup Day due to the high volume of customers.
Willow Montana, a shift manager at a Starbucks location in Brighton, Massachusetts, intended to go on strike since Starbucks had not began bargaining with the store after the store’s successful unionization vote in April.
Why should we come to work when we are understaffed, underpaid, and overworked if the corporation is unwilling to negotiate in good faith? Montana said.
Others, such Michelle Eisen, a union organizer at one of the first stores to organize in Buffalo, New York, stated that workers are furious that Starbucks promised non-union stores higher pay and benefits. Starbucks asserts that it must adhere to the law and cannot grant union stores compensation increases without bargaining.
Since late last year, at least 257 Starbucks locations have voted to unionize, according to the National Labor Relations Board. In fifty-seven establishments, workers have voted against unionization.
Starbucks and the union have begun contract negotiations at 53 outlets, with 13 more sessions planned, according to Starbucks Workers United. So yet, no agreements have been made.
The procedure was disputed. This Monday, an NLRB regional director filed a request for an injunction against Starbucks, alleging that the firm violated labor law by firing a union organizer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The regional director requested that the court order Starbucks to reinstate the employee and refrain from interfering with the national unionization campaign.
It was the fourth time the NLRB has requested intervention from a federal court. A federal judge ordered in August that Starbucks must restore seven fired union organizers in Memphis, Tennessee. In Phoenix, a federal judge ruled against the NLRB, although a similar case in Buffalo has not yet been determined.
In the meantime, Starbucks has asked the NLRB to temporarily stop all union elections at its U.S. outlets, citing a board employee’s suspicions that regional administrators colluded unlawfully with union organizers. A decision is pending in this case.
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