On one of the company’s busiest days, over a thousand Starbucks workers went on strike. On what they claim to be their biggest ever single-day strike, members of the Starbucks Workers Union are picketing outside more than a hundred locations throughout the nation.

The walkout coincides with the coffee company’s Red Cup Day when special holiday reusable cups are distributed. Customers wait in line early in the morning to purchase one of these sought-after collectible cups. This is the company’s one of most profitable days of the year.

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However, baristas like Josie Serrano claim that it is a representation of one of the union’s main demands, which is for greater staffing.

“It’s honestly one of those days that a lot of … baristas try to … ask for off because it’s always always a very insane day,” Serrano, who works at a store in Long Beach, California, said.

Serrano estimates her tenure at Starbucks to be around 4.5 years. One of the 264 businesses that decided to unionise during the past year is the one where she works, and it joined the nationwide strike on Thursday.

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Representatives of Starbucks Workers United claim that lack of staffing is just one of the problems that led to the so-called Red Cup rebellion, a nationwide walkout in which more than 100 stores set up their own picket lines.

As the two parties attempt to hammer out new contracts, Serrano claims that the walkout is meant to pressure Starbucks to negotiate with workers in good faith.

The union claims that Starbucks lawyers have skipped negotiation meetings or requested last-minute rescheduling, making it difficult for members to participate, and that the company has retaliated against union leaders.

A.J. Jones, executive vice president of communications at Starbucks, refutes that assertion.

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“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Jones said. He added that Starbucks Workers United had received adequate notice of the negotiation session letters from the firm.

Jones claimed that the company’s attempts to set up bargaining sessions have likely been “overly aggressive.” Recent talks have broken down because union leaders at the table want to film or broadcast negotiations on social media, which is against the law, he claimed.

“Under the National Labor Relations Act, you are not allowed to record bargaining sessions. And that actually is a clear violation of the act because of what’s being discussed,” he added.

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The employees’ union contests that it is a real obstacle. All they are doing, according to them, is including union members on Zoom calls, which is legal, they argue.

Leaders on the picket line are attempting to sway patrons who might not be in favour of the strike if it affects their ability to obtain a red cup. A crimson cup with the Starbucks Workers United logo on the front that was developed by a union is being offered as an even more unique commemorative souvenir.

This, according to Serrano, is a new breed of labour movement.

“I feel like the movement has been very fun. It’s been very positive. And we just really want to be able to share that with our supporters … like this is this is a party,” Serrano adds.

Up until mid-December, there will be roughly 60 new bargaining sessions.