Starbucks workers at more than 100 U.S. stores are on strike Thursday in their largest labor action since a campaign to unionize the company’s stores began late last year.
The walkouts coincide with Starbucks’ annual Red Cup Day, when the company gives free reusable cups to customers who order a holiday drink. Workers say it’s often one of the busiest days of the year. Starbucks declined to say how many red cups it plans to distribute.
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 labor action, according to Starbucks Workers United, the group organizing the effort. Strikers are handing out their own red cups with union logos.
Starbucks, which opposes the unionization 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 U.S. 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.
Silvia Baldwin, 26 and Tzvi Ortiz, 31, said they love being baristas at the 34th Street and Chestnut Street Starbucks in Philadelphia. But the work has gotten harder, with the understaffed store trying to fill delivery orders and in-person orders simultaneously.
“It’s just not viable. It’s very stressful,” Ortiz said. “And a lot of people don’t really notice, like, the humans behind this assembly.”
Baldwin, who is on the store’s bargaining committee, is also frustrated that the union hasn’t been able to bargain with Starbucks. Striking on Starbucks’ busiest day felt inspiring and it will “be impossible to ignore,” she said.
Others, including Michelle Eisen, a union organizer at one of the first stores to organize in Buffalo, New York, said workers are angry that Starbucks promised higher pay and benefits to non-union stores. Starbucks says it is following the law and can’t give union stores pay hikes without bargaining.
At a store in Seattle less than three miles from Starbucks’ headquarters, workers said managers were making drinks while baristas picketed outside.
“It’s been almost a year since we told Starbucks that we are unionizing this location and we still have not been able to get them to agree to a time for contract negotiations,” Seattle barista Micah Lakes said. “We’re not going to work the day that is the most important for you if you’re not going to be willing to meet up with us and talk with us about what we need from the company.”
At least 257 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize since late last year, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Fifty-seven stores have held votes where workers opted not to unionize.
Starbucks and the union have begun contract talks at 53 stores, with 13 additional sessions scheduled, Starbucks Workers United said. No agreements have been reached so far.
The process has been contentious. Earlier this week, a regional director with the NLRB filed a request for an injunction 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 direct Starbucks to reinstate the employee and stop interfering in the unionization campaign nationwide.
It was the fourth time the NLRB has asked a federal court to intervene. In August, a federal judge ruled that Starbucks had to reinstate seven union organizers who were fired in Memphis, Tennessee. A similar case in Buffalo has yet to be decided, while a federal judge ruled against the NLRB in a case in Phoenix.
Meanwhile, Starbucks has asked the NLRB to temporarily suspend all union elections at its U.S. stores, citing allegations from a board employee that regional officials improperly coordinated with union organizers. A decision in that case is pending.
Red Cup Day is back at Starbucks and where to find holiday drinks
Tis the season for holiday drinks and “red cups” as coffee shops and restaurant chains capitalize on America’s thirst for seasonal flavors like peppermint and eggnog.
The intrigue: Seattle-based Starbucks said it’s ringing in the holidays Thursday with its Red Cup Day giveaway, which comes two weeks after the holiday menu launched.
Wendy’s and Chick-fil-A also added peppermint-flavored treats this week.
Zoom out: Pumpkin spice, which rolled out in August, is also still available at some chains while supplies last but expect the fall flavor to be retired for the year after Thanksgiving.
State of play: A 2020 YouGov survey found that hot chocolate was America’s favorite holiday beverage with 32% of those surveyed choosing it as their top choice.
- Eggnog was second with 25%, followed by apple cider and peppermint-flavored coffee, the survey found.
Starbucks Red Cup Day: How to get a free reusable cup
How it works: Starting Thursday, Nov. 17, order a handcrafted fall or holiday drink and get a reusable red cup for free, while supplies last.
- Drinks can be ordered on the chain’s app, for delivery, in-store, drive-thru and curbside.
- Qualifying beverages include the Peppermint Mocha, Caramel Brulée Latte, Chestnut Praline Latte, Toasted White Chocolate Mocha, Irish Cream Cold Brew and the nondairy Iced Sugar Cookie Almondmilk Latte.
- Ordering a fall drink — Apple Crisp Oatmilk Macchiato, Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew and Pumpkin Spice Latte — also can get you a free cup Thursday.
Starbucks unions strike on Red Cup Day
- Starbucks Workers United said in a statement that while on strike workers will hand out red union cups to customers.
- The union’s statement said the strike is “in response to Starbucks’ union-busting tactics and refusal to bargain.”
Chick-fil-A Peppermint Milkshake 2022
Chick-fil-A’s Peppermint Chip Milkshake returned to restaurants nationwide this week.
- The limited-time shake will be available through Jan. 7, 2023, while supplies last.
Wendy’s Peppermint Frosty
Meanwhile, Wendy’s has added a Peppermint Frosty to the menu for the first time this holiday season.
- It will be available for a limited time and joins the classic Chocolate Frosty on the menu.
Separately, Wendy’s has introduced new Italian Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich, Italian Mozzarella Cheeseburger and Garlic Fries.
Dunkin’ holiday drinks 2022
Dunkin’ released its holiday menu in early November and brought back the Peppermint Mocha Signature Latte and Toasted White Chocolate Signature Latte.
- The chain added the Cookie Butter Cold Brew topped with a Cookie Butter Cold Foam and cookie butter crumbles along with a Cookie Butter doughnut.
- A Pancake Wake-Up Wrap also is part of the new menu.
Caribou Coffee holiday drink lineup
Caribou Coffee’s holiday menu launched Nov. 3 and includes drinks like the Ho Ho Mint Mocha, Fa La Latte and Spicy Mocha.
- The chain also introduced an Egg Nog Cold Foam that can be added to any beverage but the company said pairs best with cold beverages.
Peet’s holiday blend and Peppermint Mocha back
The holiday menu landed at Peet’s Coffee Nov. 2 and is available through Jan. 3.
- A new drink added to the lineup is the “Holiday Spice Cold Brew Oat Latte with Brown Sugar Jelly.”
- Returning drinks include Holiday Spice Latte and Peppermint Mocha, both available iced or hot.
- The Dark Roast Holiday Blend is also back.
Peppermint drinks back at Tim Hortons
Tim Hortons U.S. locations released its peppermint beverages and Holiday Tree Donut Wednesday along with holiday cups.
- Peppermint beverages include the Peppermint Mocha Iced Capp, Peppermint Hot Chocolate, Peppermint Mocha Latte and Peppermint Mocha Cream Cold.
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf holiday menu
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf added the Macadamia White Chocolate Latte and new Peppermint Mocha Cream Cold Brew to the menu.
- The chain also brought back the Peppermint Mocha Ice Blended drink, Peppermint Hot Cocoa and the Winter Dream Tea Latte.
Dutch Bros holiday drinks 2022
Dutch Bros has expanded its holiday drink menu with the Sugar N Spice Oat Milk Latte and the Holly Jolly Rebel energy drink.
- The coffee company brought back the Hazelnut Truffle Mocha.
7-Eleven holiday cocoa back
The convenience store chain said it has brought back the seasonal Winter Wonderland Cocoa to participating 7-Eleven, Speedway and Stripes stores.