Starbucks Workers Across The US Go On 1-Day Strike

November 17 had been designated this year's "Red Cup Day" at Starbucks, the day the coffee chain offers up collectible, limited-edition cups for free to anyone who buys one of 14 seasonal drinks at participating locations, per CNET. The day is an important one for Starbucks because, as the Washington Post points out, it is also one of the busiest days of the year.

And while we can see how this was meant to be a symbol of giving and the holiday spirit, 2022's Red Cup Day is going to be remembered for something else entirely –  the day Starbucks workers across the U.S. went on strike to protest the way Starbucks management has handled union contract negotiations.

A group representing the employees, Starbucks Workers United, announced the mass action via Twitter, dubbed the "Red Cup Rebellion." Over 100 locations, spread across the U.S., are participating in the one-day strike. (If you'd like to see if your local Starbucks cafe is on strike, you can check the Starbucks Workers United website which has an interactive map sharing the locations with planned protests.)

An Overland Park, Kansas location shared a letter sent to management in regard to the strike, which explained it would begin at 4:30 a.m. November 17. The letter goes on to state, "The right to engage in concerted activity, including the right to strike, are protected under federal law by the National Labor Relations Act," adding in bold, "Starbucks is prohibited from retaliating against or discriminating against any partner who participates in our strike." The letter explained the mass action is being undertaken to protest against what they called "the company's refusal to bargain in good faith," and that striking workers would return to their posts "unconditionally" the next day.

A special red cup for union supporters

The decision to strike came as the union accused Starbucks of negotiating in bad faith. Workers say lawyers have been changing appointments at the last minute, walking out of sessions, and even punishing employees for their pro-union activities; These are accusations Starbucks disputes, per NPR.

Though Starbucks denies it has been moving against union workers or those looking to unionize, its actions are being scrutinized by the National Labor Relations Board, which recently filed a cease and desist order in federal court to protect pro-union Starbucks employees from retaliation. The board's filing notes a "number and pattern of Starbucks' unfair labor practices ... particularly discharges" of pro-union employees (via CNN). Starbucks' reaction to the union effort is also attracting attention from politicians: In early October four U.S. senators — including Bernie Sanders, who has been outspoken in his support of the Starbucks union drive — penned a letter to the company requesting it reveal the amount spent on the anti-union campaign.

In honor of Red Cup Day, and so pro-union customers don't miss out on the fun, striking workers are offering a different kind of collectible red cup to those who refuse to cross the picket line, which comes emblazoned with an illustration of a Grinch hand holding an ornament featuring the Starbucks Workers United logo (via Twitter).