About 2,000 Starbucks employees go on strike for one day at about 100 stores | CNN Business

NEW YORK CNN BUSINESS — More than 2,000 employees at 112 Starbucks stores are set to go on a one-day strike Thursday, according to the union that has been organizing the stores over the past year. The union said it was holding a strike to protest reprisals against union supporters across the country. It is also protesting the company’s refusal to negotiate its first labor agreement with the union. 264 stores voted in favor of union representation. But contracts have yet to be negotiated, even at the stores that voted on nearly a year ago. “This is to show them we’re not playing,” said Tyler Keeling, a 26-year-old union supporter who has worked at Starbucks in Lakewood, Calif., for the past six years. “We’re done with their anti-union reprisals and walking away from bargaining.” Union supporters, including Keeling, say it’s up to each store to decide whether or not to go on a nationwide strike. Many stores have already gone on short strikes over certain issues. However, this is the first national action. “There is a lot of fear before a store decides to go on strike,” said Michelle Eisen, organizer of the first Starbucks store that voted in favor of the union last December. “Starbucks has retaliated against union leaders nationwide. But despite those fears, more than 2,000 workers across the country went on strike today and stood up for each other.” When the Keeling store staged a one-day strike in August, Starbucks (SBUX) workers from a nearby non-union store joined the picket procession, and some customers brought food and drinks to the strikers, he said. It’s unclear how many of the stores affected by Thursday’s action will be able to stay open for the duration of the strike. Protests happen on “Red Cup” Day at Starbucks, which offers reusable holiday cups with certain beverage purchases that allow customers to receive discounts and additional bonus points on future purchases. “Culturally Red Cup Day is an important day for Starbucks. People are crazy about it,” said Keeling. He said strikes on busy days were a good way to draw attention to anti-union activity. The union is calling the strike the “Red Cup Rebellion,” and instead is handing out red Starbucks Workers Union cups to customers. At a store across from the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City, workers held a picket line until Dec. 8, even though there was no union vote. Shop according to the striker. Store employees will not comment on the strike. Aaron Cirillo, 23, who has been working at the store since August, said he wasn’t discouraged that the store was able to stay open or that many customers crossed the picket line. “We are not trying to intimidate them. We just want them to hear us about the need for fair contracts,” he said. When asked what he would say to a customer if he could, he replied, “I’d encourage you to think about supporting them to go to another store in town and drink coffee someday instead of buying it.” The slogan of the strikers was enough to make some customers turn away, but the flow of customers in the store was good. The company could not immediately comment on the strike early Thursday. In the past, it denied retaliating against any employee who supported the union and blamed the union for not making progress at the negotiating table. Starbucks defended union supporters’ firings for properly enforcing rules that apply to all employees it calls “partners.” Starbucks said in a previous statement that “its interest in the union does not exempt its partners from following the policies and procedures that apply to all partners.” But this week, the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees union representation voting, filed a nationwide cease-and-desist order in federal court to prevent Starbucks from retaliating against union supporters. The NLRB file revealed the number and pattern of unfair labor practices at Starbucks, particularly the firing of union supporters at the store.

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