Starbucks Workers United calls for walkouts, strike at hundreds of stores on Red Cup Day

Gabe Hauari

The Starbucks Workers Union says that thousands of employees at hundreds of stores across the country will walk out this week during this year's Red Cup Day in what they're calling a "Red Cup Rebellion".

According to a news release from the union on Monday, workers will demand the coffee company "stop illegally refusing to bargain with baristas over staffing, scheduling and other issues."

Workers will also demand Starbucks turn off mobile ordering on future promotion days.

Workers who walk off the job will visit colleagues at non-union stores across their cities inviting them to join the union, according to the news release.

The walkout is planned for the company's annual Red Cup Day, a day in which the company hands out thousands of free reusable cups and also one of the busiest days of the year at Starbucks.

According to the news release, workers earlier this fall filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board over Starbucks' refusal to bargain around promotion days.

"Promotion days like Red Cup Day, half-off ThursYays and Buy One Get One Free offers cause a flood of customers to stores without any additional staffing to cover the influx of orders," the union said in the release.

"Starbucks workers can't keep working with such short staffing,” said Neha Cremin, a barista in Oklahoma City. 

“At my store, we're expected to make drive-thru orders, walk-up orders, mobile orders, and delivery orders. This is difficult enough to manage with a fully-staffed floor, but we're often expected to manage all these things with only three workers," said Cremin in the news release.

Starbucks spokesperson Andrew Trull released a statement to USA Today which reads in part:

"We are aware that Workers United has publicized a day of action at a small subset of our U.S. 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 working to negotiate contracts for those they represent,"

"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," The company's statement went on to say.

Starbucks announces increase in wages, benefits for workers

The labor union's announcement comes on the heels of Starbucks announcing an increase in hourly wage and benefits for most of its U.S. workers last week.

The company announced that eligible U.S. hourly workers will see at least a 3% incremental pay increase, beginning January 1.

Employees with two to five years of service will get at least a 4% increase, and workers there for five years or longer will get at least 5%, according to the company.

In an email to USA TODAY, Starbucks said that despite claims made by union organizers, all partners at U.S. company-owned stores, including those represented by a union, will receive the 3-4% wage increase, consistent with raises provided the past two years.

"More than 75 union-represented stores will also receive wage increases, differentiated by tenure, of up to 5% based on when store partners notified the company of their intent to pursue union representation," Starbucks said in the email.

More Starbucks union news:Starbucks increasing wages, benefits for most workers after record sales year

When is Starbucks Red Cup Day 2023?

According to the union, Starbucks' Red Cup Day will be held on Thursday, Nov. 16 this year.

Starbucks did not immediately confirm the date to USA TODAY.

The Glitter Red Reusable Cup, part of the Starbucks holiday cup lineup.

Starbucks holiday menu 2023:Here's what to know about new cups, drinks, coffee, food

What is Red Cup Day at Starbucks?

Customers who purchase a handcrafted holiday or fall beverage at participating Starbucks stores on Red Cup Day receive a limited edition, 16-ounce reusable cup, per the official terms from 2022.

The special offer is a play on Starbucks' red disposable cups released every holiday season.

Contributing: Emily DeLetter, USA TODAY