Baristas at three organized Starbucks locations in New Jersey are among those participating in a Nov. 16 nationwide day of protest against the Seattle coffee giant, their union announced.
According to Starbucks Workers United, employees at Ledgewood, Hamilton and Summit have joined with more than 200 stores across the U.S. to take part in the Red Cup Rebellion, calling on corporate to “stop illegally refusing to bargain with baristas over staffing, scheduling and other issues.”
The demonstration falls on the same day as Red Cup Day, when thousands of Starbucks stores will offer a free reusable cup to customers who order a holiday drink.
“Red Cup Day is Starbucks’ biggest sales event of the season – and also one of the most infamously hard, understaffed days for the baristas that work them,” the union said.
Several non-union stores – including Starbucks locations outside of the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick and in Princeton – are among those taking action in support of workers.
During 2022’s Red Cup Day – held Nov. 17 – workers at more than 100 corporate-owned Starbucks locations in the U.S. went on strike to protest what they said was illegal retaliation against them forming a union. Organizers said they expect more than 5,000 workers to take part in this year’s demonstration, making it the largest strike yet in the two-year-old push to unionize the company’s stores.
Since December 2021, workers at 446 Starbucks shops in 46 states have filed to organize. Of those, 354 locations in 42 states won union elections — the most formed in a 12-month-period for any company in the U.S. over the past two decades, according to Starbucks Workers United.
Within New Jersey, cafés in Ledgewood, Montclair, Summit, Hopewell and Hamilton have joined a growing number of stores that have opted to unionize, demanding improved training, quality health care benefits, consistent scheduling and protection of benefits.
#RedCupRebellion has begun in NJ! Starbucks union workers are on Strike joining the coast to coast Red Cup Rebellion!
Proud Starbucks workers on strike in Hamilton, NJ. @SBWUNJ @WorkersUnitedNY @UnionLdfs pic.twitter.com/TwsjfTa8eI
— SEIU NJ Council (@SEIU_NJ) November 16, 2023
According to The Associated Press, the National Labor Relations Board has issued 111 complaints against Starbucks for unfair labor practices, including refusal to bargain.
The coffee and café brand – which has more than 9,000 stores in the U.S. – says it is “encouraged by the progress we’ve seen towards [sic] first contracts at stores where union representatives have approached bargaining with professional and an actual interest in discussing partner priorities with our bargaining committees.”
In a statement to NJBIZ, Starbucks spokesperson Andrew Trull said, “We are aware that Workers United has publicized a day of action at a small subset of our U.S. stores today. 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 working to negotiate contracts for those they represent.”
“Despite escalating rhetoric and recurring rallies demanding a contract, Workers United hasn’t agreed to meet to progress contract bargaining in more than five months. As we join together to uplift the holiday season and reflect on the past year, we again call on Workers United to fulfill their obligations and engage in the work of negotiating first contracts on behalf of the partners they represent. Starbucks remains ready to progress in-person negotiations with the unions certified to represent partners,” Trull said.
A media representative for Starbucks Workers United did not immediately respond to a request for comment.