More than 2,000 employees at 112 Starbucks locations are set to go on strike for the day on Thursday, according to the union that has managed the stores for the last year.
The union said it was standing up for the retaliatory protests carried out against union supporters across the country. It also protested what it characterized as the company’s refusal to bargain with unions on its first labor agreement. There are 264 stores that have voted to represent the union. But no contract has been negotiated even in the shop that chose almost a year ago.
“This is to show that we’re not playing around,” said Tyler Keeling, a 26-year-old union supporter who has worked at a Starbucks in Lakewood, California – near Los Angeles – for the past six years. “We’ve had anti-union retaliation and they’ve walked away from the bargain.”
Keeling and other union supporters said it was up to individual stores to participate or not in the national strike. Many stores have been staged beat for a while has more special issues. But this is the first national action.
“There was a lot of fear before the shops decided to go on strike,” he said Michelle Eisenorganizer of The first Starbucks store to vote in favor of the union Last December. “Starbucks has retaliated against union leaders across the country. But despite those fears, more than 2,000 workers across the country are now on strike and standing up for one another.
When Keeling’s store staged a strike one day in August, Starbucks
(SUB) workers from a nearby non-union store joined the picket line, he said, and some customers brought food and drinks to the strikers.
It is unclear how many stores affected by Thursday’s action will be able to remain open during the strike.
“Cultural Red Cup Day is an important day at Starbucks. People go crazy because of it,” Keeling said. He said holding a strike on a day with a large number of customers is a good way to draw attention to anti-union activity.
The union called the strike the “Red Cup Rebellion” and handed out red Starbucks Workers United union cups to customers.
At a store across from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City, workers walked a picket line despite the store not having a union vote until December 8. store, according to the strikers. Staff on the job at the store would not comment on the strike.
Aaron Cirillo, a 23-year-old who has worked at the store since August, said he was not discouraged by the fact that the store was able to stay open or that many customers crossed the picket line.
“We are not trying to scare them. We just want them to listen to our story about the need for a fair contract,” he said. Asked what he would tell consumers if he could, he replied, “I would urge them to think about showing support by not get a coffee today, or go to another shop in town for a coffee.”
The strikers chants were enough to prompt some customers to turn away, but there was a good flow of customers in the store.
The company was not immediately available for comment on the strike early Thursday. In the past it has denied that it has retaliated against all workers for their support of the union, and it has blamed the union for the lack of progress at the Negotiating table. Starbucks has defended the dismissal of union supporters who have been carried out as the implementation of the correct rules that apply to all of its employees, who are referred to as “partners”.
“An interest in a union does not exempt partners from following policies and procedures that apply to all partners,” Starbucks said in an earlier statement.
But this week, the National Labor Relations Board — which oversees union representative votes — filed in federal court for a nationwide cease and desist order to prevent Starbucks from retaliating against union supporters.
The NLRB petitioner said there had been “a number and pattern of unfair labor practices by Starbucks … particularly liberating” against union supporters at the store.