Starbucks employees organized a national strike Thursday in the largest coordinated action of the Starbucks union movement to date. Intentionally planned for November 17, Starbucks’ “Red Cup Day,” workers in 112 stores across 32 states withheld their labor during one of the coffee company’s busiest days. The strike, dubbed the “Red Cup Rebellion,” comes just days after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) requested a nation-wide injunction against Starbucks for anti-union activities.
Starbucks Workers United has filed 400 unfair labor practice charges against Starbucks with the NLRB. So far, the NLRB has issued 45 complaints against the store, covering 155 charges. In turn, the coffee company issued 27 unfair labor practice charges against the union in late October, alleging that union members illegally attempted to record and transmit negotiations online. The union maintains that theses charges come from the company’s refusal to hold negotiations over video call, something both parties agreed to earlier in the pandemic.
Starbucks Workers United has seen tremendous growth in the past year. A press release on the union’s website claims, “Starbucks Workers have formed more unions in a 12-month period than any US company in the last 20 years.” The first Starbucks store unionized on December 9, 2021, in Buffalo, New York. The current number of unionized Starbucks locations stands at 254 stores, with 40 open union elections still pending a vote.
The growing union movement within the coffee chain mirrors the growing union movement in the US. Even without including Starbucks stores, union election victories in 2022 outpaced last year’s figure. According to Gallup, the share of Americans who approve of unions is at its highest level in 57 years.