Starbucks workers continue to push for change with a three-day strike

Dec 16, 2022, 2:49 PM
starbucks strike...

Starbucks workers and supporters hold a banner that reads "strike" in front of a giant inflatable rat during the "Unfair Labor Practice Strike" in St. Paul, Minn. on Friday, Dec. 16, 2022. Starbucks workers around the U.S. are planning a three-day strike starting Friday. The walkouts are part of their effort to unionize the coffee chain's stores.(Kerem Yücel /Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

(Kerem Yücel /Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

Starbucks union workers are launching a three-day strike across the country and in the Puget Sound region.

Union employees at three stores in Seattle, one in Everett, and another in Tumwater joined their counterparts at about 100 locations nationwide to demand better working conditions.

Workers in Seattle claim Starbucks retaliated to their “Red Cup Rebellion” protest around Thanksgiving by closing the Broadway and Denny store, one of Capitol Hill’s last Starbucks coffee shops.

Union participates in ‘Red Cup Rebellion’ at Seattle Starbucks

The company has cited persistent safety and security concerns. Workers at stores across Seattle told KIRO Newsradio they believe it was because local staff organized and went on a one-day strike when the company kicked off its holiday season by handing out the festive red cups.

“The union-busting has been happening all around Seattle and the country,” said barista Hargurleen Gill. “All of these problems are just building up and we’ve reached the breaking point.”

The store at Broadway and Denny was the first to unionize in Seattle.

Katie Merritt is a shift supervisor at the Madison Park store, where workers picketed with hopes of drawing the attention of CEO Howard Schultz, who they say is a regular customer of their café.

Meritt disputed the safety concerns the company raised and said she has requested baristas from the Broadway and Denny location.

“We’re understaffed. We’ve had many labor cuts in the last few weeks during our busiest season,” Merritt said. “I asked the other day if we can get Broadway and Denny people and we did get a couple of managers, but no baristas.”

Protests started Friday and are planned through Sunday at Madison Park, Fifth and Pine, and at Seattle’s Reserve Roastery locations.

“It is unfortunate that Workers United continues to spread misleading claims while disrupting the Starbucks Experience that our partners and customers have come to love and expect,” a Starbucks spokesperson said. “Despite these delay tactics, we remain focused on working together and engaging meaningfully and directly with the union to make Starbucks a company that works for everyone, and we urge Workers United to uphold their promises to partners by moving the bargaining process forward.”

NLRB: Starbucks violated labor laws, must negotiate with Roastery union

But, some workers said that the company is not upholding its promises.

“They say they are showing up, but they are not showing up,” Gill said. “They have a way of stretching things out. If they wanted to get things done, they would get things done.”

“Looking forward, we continue to propose dates and locations to Workers United for additional contract bargaining sessions—and have encouraged our partners to participate in the collective bargaining process so that their voices are heard,” Starbucks said.

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Starbucks workers continue to push for change with a three-day strike