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Starbucks workers hold union-branded cups

Starbucks workers hold union-branded red cups. (Photo: Starbucks Workers United/Twitter)

'Red Cup Rebellion': Workers at 100+ Starbucks Locations Strike to Protest Union Busting

"This Red Cup Day, we're organizing for a voice on the job and a true seat at the table," said one Starbucks worker.

Jake Johnson

Thousands of unionized Starbucks workers at more than 100 locations across the United States are walking off the job Thursday to protest the coffee giant's refusal to engage in good-faith negotiations with stores that have voted to organize.

Workers United, the union representing thousands of Starbucks employees, dubbed the nationwide day of action the "Red Cup Rebellion," a pro-labor counter to Starbucks' annual "Red Cup Day."

As Starbucks gives away free reusable cups to customers to mark the holiday season, striking employees nationwide are handing out Starbucks Workers United-branded cups to build public awareness of the union drive and spotlight the company's aggressive and unlawful efforts to crush it.

"Whether it's firing one of my coworkers for wearing a suicide awareness pin, how they've closed down a dozen locations in the process of unionizing, or how we're being denied benefits that non-union stores are getting, Starbucks has left behind the very values that drew many of us to the company in the first place," Michelle Eisen, a Buffalo Starbucks worker, said in a statement.

"You cannot be pro-LGTBQ, pro-BLM, pro-sustainability, and anti-union," Eisen added. "This Red Cup Day, we're organizing for a voice on the job and a true seat at the table."

In a press release, Starbucks Workers United called Thursday's walkouts "the biggest coordinated national action taken by union Starbucks stores in the campaign's history," with at least 112 locations in dozens of cities taking part.

Workers at more than 260 Starbucks locations across the U.S. have voted to unionize since late last year, but the company has yet to agree to a contract with any of the stores. Employees have accused the corporation of engaging in egregious stalling tactics, rejecting basic demands, and walking out of bargaining sessions after just minutes.

"We were lucky if we hit the 10-minute mark before they were gone," Tyler Keeling, a barista at a Starbucks in Lakewood, California, told The Guardian. "It's very clear what they're doing, which is dragging out bargaining as far as they can to try to demoralize partners."

The Thursday strikes come two days after the National Labor Relations Board asked a federal court to issue a "nationwide cease and desist order" to bar Starbucks from terminating workers for engaging in union activity. The NLRB has accused Starbucks of more than 900 labor law violations over the past year, according to Starbucks Workers United.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) expressed solidarity with the thousands of Starbucks employees who are walking off the job Thursday, writing on social media that "CEO Howard Schultz is illegally union busting and firing workers for organizing."

"I'm proud to stand with Starbucks workers on strike today across the country," Sanders tweeted. "Mr. Schultz, it is time to recognize the stores that unionized and negotiate with workers in good faith."

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