Starbucks Workers Stage Nationwide ‘Red Cup Day’ Strike

Once seen as a beacon of so-called progressive corporate policies, Starbucks has faced mounting backlash from the left in recent months due to its stance on issues from unionization to the Israel-Hamas war.

Thursday’s “Red Cup Day” promotion, which is traditionally one of the chain’s busiest days of the year, provided workers with an opportunity to express their disdain toward the company that provides them with a paycheck by staging strategic walkouts at hundreds of locations nationwide.

A smaller-scale strike occurred during last year’s Red Cup Day, but as more workers demand to join the Starbucks Workers Union, this week saw an escalation that has been labeled the “Red Cup Rebellion” by supporters of the cause.

Many of the thousands of workers expected to strike on Thursday came prepared with a list of complaints and demands, most of which hinged on their desire to work less.

“I feel like customers don’t know to the full extent how hard the promotional days can be,” complained Seattle, Washington, barista Bruce Halstead. “It’s super exciting and fun for our customers to have these new cups, new drinks and all these exclusive things, but our management does not staff us correctly.”

Others, including G Gamache, who is employed at a Starbucks location in St. Louis, Missouri, argued that the Red Cup Rebellion is a necessary step toward achieving the widespread unionization employees need.

“We’re still here,” Gamache said. “We’re still doing this. We’re still picking up steam, still picking up new stars. Starbucks has tried to do everything in the playbook to beat us down and get rid of us. This is going to be my store’s 10th strike in a year and a half and we’re still organizing new people — even when they try to whittle this down to nothing. That’s always the message I’m trying to send, that it doesn’t work, you can’t beat us.”

Starbucks has a different point of view on the matter, as one corporate spokesperson explained.

The company asserted that it is “committed to working with all partners, side-by-side, to elevate the everyday,” but asserted that union leaders are not negotiating in good faith.

“Despite escalating rhetoric and recurring rallies, Workers United hasn’t agreed to meet for contract bargaining in more than four months and has yet to deliver on any campaign promise made,” the spokesperson added. “As we join together to celebrate the joy of the holiday season, we call on Workers United to come to the bargaining table and do the work of negotiating a first contract on behalf of the partners they represent.”