Red Cup Rebellion: Starbucks workers at hundreds of locations stage strike, walkout

Members of the Starbucks Workers United are demanding improved staffing and fair labor practices

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published November 17, 2023 9:14AM (EST)

Starbucks baristas and supporters protest outside a Manhattan Starbucks (Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Starbucks baristas and supporters protest outside a Manhattan Starbucks (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Thousands of workers at more than 200 Starbucks locations nationwide went on strike Thursday in what organizers describe is the largest-ever strike in Starbucks history. Dubbed the “Red Cup Rebellion,” the day-long walkout took place on the company’s “Red Cup Day” promotion, which is one of the most infamously understaffed days for Starbucks baristas.  

Starbucks Workers United said workers at the multinational coffee chain are demanding improved staffing and fair labor practices. The union added that it was expecting more than 5,000 workers to participate in the strike, according to the Associated Press. Around 30 stores also staged walkouts on Wednesday.

Nearly two years after the union won its first representation vote at a New York-based Starbucks store, it has won more votes at 368 company-operated stores in more than 41 states. Starbucks, however, has yet to reach a collective bargaining agreement with any of the stores that have voted to unionize.

“We remain committed to working with all partners, side-by-side, to elevate the everyday, and we hope that Workers United’s priorities will shift to include the shared success of our partners and negotiating contracts for those they represent,” Starbucks said in a statement obtained by the Associated Press.

Last month, Starbucks’ relations with Workers United grew more tense after the company sued the union over a pro-Palestine post made on the union’s social media account. Starbucks claimed the post angered several of its loyal customers and damaged its reputation. Workers United, in turn, filed its own lawsuit, saying Starbucks defamed the union by suggesting that it supports terrorism and violence.

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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Brief Food News Red Cup Day Red Cup Rebellion Starbucks Starbucks Workers United Union