“Starbucks Employees Stage Walkout During ‘Red Cup Day’ Event, Advocating for Improved Staffing and Schedules”
In a significant development, employees at numerous Starbucks locations across the United States initiated walkouts during the highly anticipated “Red Cup Day” promotional event, according to announcements on the Workers United social media platform X.
“Red Cup Day” is a well-known Starbucks tradition where the coffee giant distributes free red-colored, reusable, holiday-themed cups to customers with their coffee purchases. Historically, this event has been a major catalyst for increased store traffic, as highlighted by data from Placer.ai, demonstrating a surge in visits on “Red Cup Day” throughout the years.
Workers United revealed on social media that surprise walkouts had commenced at stores in 30 cities ahead of the planned strike on Thursday, during this crucial promotional event.
The United Steelworkers union, representing Starbucks workers in Canada, stated that it was not aware of any planned walkout activities at the locations it represents. However, workers at a Starbucks location in Kitchener, Ont., voted to unionize with the United Steelworkers on Thursday, bringing the total number of unionized Starbucks locations in Canada to 11.
Workers United, representing over 9,000 Starbucks employees at approximately 360 U.S. stores, characterized the “Red Cup Day” as one of the most challenging days for workers due to understaffing and increased customer demands, often leading to frustration and abuse directed at employees.
Starbucks, with nearly 10,000 company-owned locations in the U.S., stated that less than three percent of these stores are represented by a union. The company also noted that it has not engaged in bargaining talks with the union for more than four months.
Despite Starbucks’ announcement earlier this month about raising hourly pay for U.S. retail workers by at least three percent from 2024, employees criticized the move as “tone deaf,” considering the company’s 11 percent increase in fourth-quarter revenue and recent wage hikes for autoworkers. Starbucks has not yet responded to requests for comment on Thursday’s walkouts. Last year, workers at over 100 company-owned Starbucks locations staged a one-day strike on Red Cup day to protest alleged illegal retaliatory actions by Starbucks, including firings and store closures, against employees advocating for unionization.