Unionized Starbucks workers at the Shattuck Avenue location went on strike Thursday as part of a nationwide “Red Cup Rebellion” organized by Starbucks Workers United, or SWU.
Starbucks employees protested Red Cup Day, one of Starbucks’ largest seasonal sales events, at locations across the country. According to SWU, this date was chosen for both its fiscal significance to the Starbucks corporation and its history as one of the busiest and understaffed workdays for baristas.
“This is the largest Starbucks Workers United strike ever; in fact, hundreds of stores across the nation are on strike today,” said Jack Miller, shift supervisor and striker at the Shattuck location. “This (day) was targeted to address the ridiculous short-staffing that we have all been experiencing nationally and to demand that Starbucks comes to the table and bargain our contracts with us.”
According to Miller, all 25-30 of the location’s employees went on strike, while about 7-10 workers picketed outside the store on Shattuck.
While some nationwide protests began Wednesday, this was not possible at the Shattuck location because it lacked an active in-store manager, noted shift supervisor Staicy Robles.
“If we walk out, there’s nobody to walk out on because we don’t have any management,” Robles said. “We have a proxy manager from a different store that isn’t present at our store, but she has to manage her own store. We have a district manager, but our (location) manager isn’t there.”
According to Robles, a one-day strike was approved by SWU at this location, meaning workers are compensated for 70% of their expected wages.
Some of the Shattuck workers’ demands regarding allegedly unsafe and unfair working conditions from their strike last month remain. Strikers also cited these grievances in reference to the Thursday walkout.
“Last time, our strike was about unfair working conditions, like with our broken AC. They fixed our AC, but now there is active construction going on in (the store),” Robles said. “There’s a wall that makes the store completely inaccessible.”
The active construction next to the Shattuck location limits capacity for customers in the store, Robles noted. She added that Starbucks locations across the country similarly struggle with limited store space, making them unequipped to handle the influx of customers on annual Red Cup Days.
Miller mentioned ongoing consumer boycotts against Starbucks nationwide, sparked by a set of lawsuits between the corporation and SWU. The lawsuits came after SWU noted its solidarity with Palestinian people in a social media post amidst the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
However, Miller clarified that the union itself did not call for these boycotts and that Thursday’s Red Cup Rebellion specifically relates to issues of short-staffing and workers’ demands for contract bargains.
According to Robles, Starbucks employees from other local stores were asked to fill in at the Shattuck branch.
“The goal is to take away profits from the company so that they listen not only (to) their workers but (t0) their consumers as well,” Robles said.