Thousands of Starbucks employees from over 200 locations across the United States walked out on one of the company’s busiest days. Customers were given reusable cups in exchange for holiday drink orders on Red Cup Day, so the stores were naturally busier.
The 16 November 2023 walkouts were part of the Workers United union’s efforts to unionise Starbucks locations.
This was most likely the largest strike in the last two years, dating back to the start of the unionisation campaign.
Over 5,000 workers may have taken part in the “Red Cup Rebellion.” On November 15, approximately 30 outlets also staged walkouts.
Employees are dissatisfied because the coffee chain is not keeping its promises to them.
Such promotional days, in which customers are given reusable cups or one coffee for free with the purchase of another, result in a significant increase in workload and stress on the staff. Even on such busy days, employees are not permitted to ignore mobile orders or make any changes to the processes in order to alleviate work pressure. The outlets are understaffed to handle the increased workload, and employees are frustrated that they are not compensated for all of the extra work they are required to do on offer days.
The outlets that voted in favour of unionisation have not yet met with Starbucks management to bargain.
Since the first Starbucks outlet in Buffalo unionised in 2021, over 363 stores have voted in favour of unionisation.