Thousands of Starbucks employees strike over work conditions

The Starbucks strikes have been rumbling on for two years in the US (file photo)
The Starbucks strikes have been rumbling on for two years in the US (file photo) Copyright Kerem Yucel/MPR News.
By Angela Barnes with APTN
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Thousands of Starbucks workers are going on a one-day strike, Euronews Business looks at why.


Thousands of workers at more than 200 Starbucks shops in the US are going on strike in what organisers have described as the largest walkout yet in the two-year effort to unionise the company’s stores.

The Workers United union chose Starbucks' annual Red Cup Day, the 16 November, to stage the action as it often one of the busiest days of the year for the company.

The union said it was expecting more than 5,000 workers to take part after around 30 shops also staged walkouts on Wednesday.

Why Starbucks employees are striking

Neha Cremin, a Starbucks barista in Oklahoma City, said she was striking to protest understaffing in stores, especially during promotions like Red Cup Day. Cremin said workers are already overwhelmed filling delivery orders, drive-thru orders, mobile orders and in-store orders; promotions add another layer of stress.

“Understaffing hurts workers and also creates an unpleasant experience for customers,” Cremin said. “Starbucks has made it clear that they won’t listen to workers, so we’re advocating for ourselves by going on strike.”

Thursday’s strike was the fifth major labor action by Starbucks workers since a store in Buffalo, New York, became the first to unionise in late 2021. 

Workers at 110 stores walked out last year on Red Cup Day; most recently, a strike in June protested reports that Starbucks had removed Pride displays from its stores.

Impact of strikes on company profit

However, the strikes have had little impact on Starbucks’ sales. For its 2023 fiscal year, which ended 1 October, the group reported a revenue rise of 12%,to a record $36.0 billion.

Starbucks also downplayed any potential impact of the strike on Wednesday, saying it would occur at a “small subset” of the company’s 9,600 company-owned US stores.

“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.

At least 363 company-operated Starbucks stores in 41 states have voted to unionise since late 2021. Starbucks the effort and has yet to reach a labour agreement with any of the stores that have voted to unionise.

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