(NEXSTAR) – Starbucks workers at over 110 locations across the U.S. are planning strikes or walkouts on Thursday to protest working conditions, pay, and the company’s alleged actions to discourage unionization efforts, according to a labor group representing thousands of Starbucks employees.
The walkouts are said to be the “biggest coordinated national action taken by union Starbucks stores in the campaign’s history,” with dozens of unionized locations among those where employees will be picketing, per a press release from Starbucks Workers United.
The walkouts also coincide with Red Cup Day, a holiday-based promotion during which Starbucks provides red reusable cups to customers who make qualifying purchases.
In protest, workers at stores with strikes or planned walkouts will be hosting their own “Red Cup Rebellion,” as they’re calling it, to send a message to the company concerning its stance on benefits and unionization.
“You cannot be pro-LGTBQ, pro-BLM, pro-sustainability, and anti-union. This Red Cup Day, we’re organizing for a voice on the job and a true seat at the table,” said Michelle Eisen, a Starbucks employee from Buffalo, New York, in the press release.
More than 110 stores are said to be participating in the walkouts, Starbucks Workers United said, including coffee shops across at least 25 states, including:
- New Jersey
- New York
- South Carolina
Workers at some of the Starbucks locations in those states are planning walkouts only during select or peak hours, while others appear to be planning pickets all day, materials from Starbucks Workers United suggest.
Striking workers picketing outside the locations were also planning to hand out their own branded cups in support of the labor union’s efforts.
In a statement shared with Nexstar on Thursday, a spokesperson for Starbucks said the company is “aware” of the employee demonstrations, and that Starbucks “respect[s] their right to engage in lawful protest activity — though our focus has been, and continues to be, on uplifting the Starbucks experience for our partners and customers.”
“We remain committed to all partners and will continue to work together, side-by-side, to make Starbucks a company that works for everyone,” the statement continued. “In those stores where partners have elected union-representation, we have been willing and continue to urge the union to meet us at the bargaining table to move the process forward in good faith.
Starbucks had previously said it opposes unionization efforts, claiming the company functions best when it works directly with employees, the Associated Press reported. Starbucks has also denied using union-busting tactics, despite accusations of firing pro-union employees or closing shops that had voted in favor of unionizing.
At least 257 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize since late last year, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Starbucks and Workers United have engaged in contract talks at 53 stores, with 13 additional sessions scheduled, Starbucks Workers United confirmed with AP. No agreements have been reached so far.
Pennsylvania U.S. Senator-Elect John Fetterman on Thursday released the following statement in support of the striking Starbucks workers, including two in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
“I am proud to give my full support to these workers standing up against Starbucks’ disgusting union-busting tactics. Solidarity with those striking in Pittsburgh, Philly, and across the country today. I will always have their backs.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.