Thousands of Starbucks workers in cities like Seattle and New York are expected to go on strike, as announced by the Workers United union. The union has been actively working to organize baristas for the past two years but has yet to reach a contract agreement with the coffee company.
The strike, aptly named the “Red Cup Rebellion” by the union, is scheduled to coincide with Starbucks’ highly anticipated promotional day. On this day, customers who purchase holiday drinks are given free, reusable red cups.
Despite the strike, Starbucks stock remains unaffected, with a 1.1% increase in afternoon trading, while the S&P 500 remains relatively stable.
According to the union, the company’s red-cup giveaway further exacerbates the problem of understaffing in stores that are already managing multiple ordering streams. From drive-through and mobile orders to delivery and traditional walk-up orders, baristas are expected to handle it all. This workload becomes even more challenging when stores are understaffed, often with only three workers managing everything.
Neha Cremin, a barista from Oklahoma City, expressed her concerns, emphasizing that understaffing not only negatively impacts workers but also creates an unpleasant experience for customers.
To date, approximately 360 Starbucks stores have successfully organized with Workers United since December 2021. Although this number represents only a fraction of the more than 9,000 company-operated locations across the U.S., it is a significant achievement in an industry where organizing lower-wage, high-turnover jobs can be particularly challenging.
Both the union and Starbucks have accused each other of prolonging negotiations to reach initial contracts. However, Starbucks has stated its commitment to working alongside its partners to achieve shared success and hopes that Workers United will prioritize negotiating contracts for those they represent.
Staffing Flexibility at Starbucks
In recent news, Starbucks has emphasized the importance of staffing flexibility in order to meet the unique and dynamic needs of each store. This commitment reflects their dedication to providing exceptional service to customers.
However, the company is currently facing allegations that it has violated the rights of employees who are seeking to unionize and negotiate contracts. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which oversees worker rights to organize, has brought forward over 100 cases against Starbucks, accusing them of unfair labor practices.
Out of these cases, 33 have been found in favor of the employees by the administrative law judges at the NLRB. Violations include actions such as interrogating, threatening, and even discharging workers. Starbucks, on the other hand, asserts that they will continue to defend themselves and the rights of their partners, maintaining that some of the charges lack merit or are unfounded. They further clarify that settlements have been reached in certain instances, while other matters are currently being litigated.
In response to these issues, a group of unionized employees staged a protest outside their workplace in Queens, New York. Holding up handmade signs and drinking coffee from competitor Dunkin’, they urged customers to boycott Starbucks. The goal was to raise awareness and encourage people to align their spending habits with their values.
Maria Flores, a part-time worker and union member, expressed her desire to spread the message and motivate individuals to support causes they believe in through their purchasing decisions. James Carr, a shift supervisor and union organizer, echoed her sentiments, highlighting the potential impact if Americans collectively chose not to patronize Starbucks until negotiations took place.
It is crucial for Starbucks to address these allegations and concerns in a fair and transparent manner. As the legal proceedings continue, the company remains committed to defending itself while respecting the rights of its partners.