More than 100 Starbucks employees will strike Thursday in what will be the company’s largest labor action since a campaign to unionize its stores began late last year. According to reports, employees are planning to began their walkouts on Starbucks’ annual Red Cup Day, a day in which the company gives out free reusable cups to customers who order holiday drinks. Starbucks employees say Red Cup Day is the one o the busiest days of the year for them. Workers are on strike because there is a desire for better pay, more consistency in schedules, and a higher level of staffing in busy stores. According to Starbucks, the company opposes unionization, saying working directly with employees is the best way to accomplish the company’s goals.
In April, a Starbucks shift manager in Brighton, Massachusetts, named Willow Montana, filed a strike notice because Starbucks hadn’t begun its negotiations with the store, despite a successful union vote in April. Montana released a statement about the situation saying, “If the company won’t bargain in good faith, why should we come to work where we are understaffed, underpaid and overworked?” According to a union organizer named Michelle Eisen from Buffalo, New York, Starbucks promised higher pay and benefits to non-union stores, according to Starbucks, union stores can’t get pay hikes without bargaining with the company. The National Labor Relations Board says around 257 Starbucks stores voted to unionize late last year and of those 257 stores, 57 have opted not to unionize via a vote.
A NLRB regional director filed an injunction against Starbucks earlier this week, claiming the company violated labor laws by firing a union organizer. Starbucks was asked to reinstate the employee and to quit interfering with the nationwide unionization campaign. As of now, Starbucks has asked the NLRB to temporarily suspend all union elections at its U.S. stores. The union and Starbucks have begun contract negotiations at 53 stores in the U.S., and 13 more sessions are scheduled to take place according to Starbucks Workers United. So far, there have been no agreements.