Thousands of Starbucks Employees Walk Off the Job, Leave Company Hanging on One of the Busiest Days of the Year

Thousands of Starbucks Employees Walk Off the Job, Leave Company Hanging on One of the Busiest Days of the Year

Thousands of Starbucks employees, steamed up over working conditions, walked off the job Thursday at more than 200 stores nationwide during one of the chain’s busiest days of the year.

The one-day strike brought a Christmas crunch to stores during Red Cup Day, an annual promotion in which stores issue a red reusable cup to customers who purchase items from the holiday menu, the Washington Post reported.

Workers carrying signs with slogans like “No Contract, No Coffee” made demands regarding their working conditions, particularly staffing and scheduling during promotional events like Red Cup Day.

Jasmine Leli, a barista in Buffalo, New York, was one of those demanding that Starbucks turn off mobile ordering to prevent the inevitable flood of orders which, piled onto walk-in, drive-through and delivery orders, leave short-staffed crews swamped with an overwhelming workload.

“Someone and 20 of their friends can put in a mobile order and then a barista is doing the work of two to three people,” Leli told the Post. “It’s a mess at the end of the day.”

Juniper Schweitzer, a 16-year Starbucks veteran, told the Associated Press a similar story.

“I mean, you can imagine the Starbucks orders,” she said while picketing outside her Chicago store. “Decaf grande non-fat, three-and-a-half Splenda mocha with no whip.

“Multiply that by 100 and you have just drink, drink, drink, drink, drink, drink, drink.

“We just have basically an infinite amount of drinks and we’re understaffed and we’re underpaid and we’re sick of it.”

Starbucks spokesman Andrew Trull downplayed the impact of the so-called “Red Cup Rebellion.”

“We have nearly 10,000 stores open right now delighting our customers with the joy of Red Cup Day,” he said in a statement Thursday. “There are also a few dozen stores with some partners on strike, and more than half of those stores are open this morning serving customers.”

Trull told the Seattle Times the company has made employees and working conditions a priority by investing more than 20 percent of its profits this fiscal year in wage hikes, training and equipment.

But in a Wednesday email, Starbucks Workers United accused the chain of underhanded tactics, the Times reported.

“Instead of bargaining with workers, Starbucks has illegally offered workers at only nonunion stores benefits like credit card tipping that unionized workers have called for since the beginning of the campaign. Last week, they offered 3% raises to nonunion workers.”

Trull’s statement contradicted that argument, saying the company is “ready to progress in-person negotiations,” according to the Post. He added that the company expressed hope that the union’s “priorities will shift to include the shared success of our partners.”

The AP reported that around 360 of more than 9,000 Starbucks stores have unionized since the first one was organized in 2021, and they have staged four previous major labor actions before Thursday’s Red Cup Rebellion.

But the AP said the strikes “have had little impact on Starbucks’ sales.”

“For its 2023 fiscal year, which ended Oct. 1, Starbucks reported its revenue rose 12% to a record $36.0 billion.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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