Starbucks workers stage ‘Red Cup Day’ strike
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Thousands of Starbucks workers protested the lack of their first contract Thursday, despite nearly two years of organizing.

Starbucks’ strike, dubbed the Red Cup Rebellion by some, was intended to last only one day, unlike recent strikes by the United Auto Workers union at the nation’s three unionized automakers or strikes by SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America, which shut down film and television production.

A limited-duration strike on Starbucks’s key promotion day, however, is important to the union’s efforts to win their first contract at the company. The fact that more than 200,000 strikers left picket lines in the last month indicates that union activism at American workplaces has reached unprecedented levels.

At a Starbucks store in Buffalo, New York, Starbucks Workers United won its first representation vote in December 2021. Three hundred and sixty-eight more votes have been won at 454 locations since then. Despite this, none of the more than 9,000 union members in the stores have contracts.

During the company’s “Red Cup Day” promotion, when its reusable holiday cups are sold, the union has again staged widespread walkouts and protests.

Although many of the stores on strike remained open during previous strikes, because management replaced the unionized strikers with workers from nearby non-union stores. Several Starbucks stores are close to one another, which makes this possible. It is through the picket lines that the union is able to reach out to Starbucks customers who are sympathetic to the union’s cause, even if the unionized stores remain open.