Workers claimed they were protesting against the firm’s refusal to bargain on a fair basis as well as other anti-union activities.
Starbucks employees struck on Thursday at a number of unionized stores across the nation They cite what they believe is the company’s unwillingness to bargain with good faith and anti-union tactics such as dismissals and closing stores.
The stoppage of work that organizers have dubbed “the Red Cup Rebellion,” in reference to the holiday-themed reusable cups that Starbucks will be distributing along when you purchase certain items is scheduled to last all duration of the. Workers who were striking said they’d hand out union-branded cups.
“Starbucks has abandoned the values that brought most of us into the business in the beginning,” Michelle Eisen, one of the workers who assisted in organizing the first of over 250 workplaces that have formally joined unions in the last year, declared in an official statement. “You can’t have a career as a pro-L.G.T.B.Q., pro-B.L.M. as well as pro-sustainable and anti-union. On this Red Cup Day, we’re making sure that we have the right to have a voice and a real place in the room.”
In the statement, Starbucks said it was aware that “union demonstrations are planned at only a few of Starbucks’s more than 10,000 U.S. owned stores.” Starbucks also stated that it was adamant about the rights that its staff, who they call partners, to take part in peaceful protests. However, it said the company’s primary concern was “uplifting customer satisfaction.” Starbucks experience for our customers and partners.”
The strike that took place on Thursday is the biggest single labor protest, at least in the geographic area that the union has taken part in ever since it began the strike. Union officials said that employees at over 100 stores took part in the strike, although this number was not independently verified.
Organizational experts have said that escalating the dispute is required to force the firm’s hand and let the union negotiate a contract that includes concrete benefits such as increased wages and improved health benefits for sick leaves.
Gene Bruskin, a longtime organizer who helped the Amazon employees who successfully negotiated unionization at Staten Island this year, stated in an interview that a massive organized, well-organized action such as an all-encompassing strike was crucial as it demonstrated to the company that “things will only be worse than they are” unless it comes together and negotiated with the workers.
The unionization wave exploded following the Buffalo-area store’s victory in a vote for unionization in December. There were dozens of stores across the country declaring union elections in the coming months. (The National Labor Relations Board found later that workers at another store in Buffalo were able to votes in December, too.)
However, the campaign had slowed in late in the spring and volume of filings for elections dropped dramatically during the next few months, from around 70 in March to less then 10 filings in the month of August.
The union’s supporters blame the slowdown on the company’s response to their protest that, they say, includes the dismissal of union members and wage hikes and new benefits only applicable to stores that were not joined the union or were currently in the process of forming unions.
The National Labor Relations Board has issued numerous accusations against the firm based on these allegations and judges from the agency have made rulings against the company in a handful of cases in the past.
This company which has the ability to appeal rulings, has denied having acted in a way that is illegal, saying that it has dismissed union members only when they’ve breached the company’s policies and that it is barred by law from introducing unilaterally new benefits or wage increases in unionized shops because they have to be negotiated. Experts in labor law have looked at this argument with suspicion.
The strike on Thursday appears to be a sign of a new phase of the campaign, in that time, the union witnessed no progress in the negotiations that started in October. The company has been absent from several of the meetings, saying that workers’ representatives are breaking established ground rules when they seek to broadcast the meetings using video-chat software.
Casey Moore, a Buffalo-area worker who was involved in the union’s campaign claimed that union representatives were not looking to broadcast negotiations and said the reason for this video stream was bring in those who were unable to attend in person. This is an arrangement several companies have offered since the beginning this pandemic.
In Chicago the city, workers gathered in front of shuttered shops with temperatures of 30 degrees and occasionally snow with signs reading “Solidarity Brewing” and “Will strike if provoked.”
Teddy Hoffman, a unionized shift manager at the Starbucks shop on the city’s North Side, said company representatives ended a bargaining meeting with employees in late October just after it began.
“We were able to keep our Skype open to allow certain of our participants could join in, but they stated that they were not going to negotiate in a hybrid manner, so they left,” Mr. Hoffman explained, referring to a system where workers could participate in person or via remote. He added that a second session was not scheduled.
Reed Essex, a worker at a different Chicago store, told the newspaper that representatives from the company had not shown on time for the store’s scheduled bargaining session on October 1 and were not able to reschedule the session.
A Starbucks spokesperson confirmed that representatives from the company were at the hotel where the negotiation was scheduled to occur but they refused to go into the room for negotiations because representatives were not willing to not include colleagues from outside via video conference.
The increase in the use of labor tactics was first noticed in summer, when employees at specific stores began to engage in longer and more frequently strikes, such as those at a store in Boston who were on strike longer than two months. The workers at the company’s New York City Roastery have been striking for over three weeks.