Workers at San Antonio Starbucks strike on company’s ‘red cup’ day – San Antonio Express-News

A downtown San Antonio Starbucks was among more than 100 nationwide whose workers went on strike Thursday in their largest labor action since a campaign to unionize the company’s stores began late last year.

The walkout came on Red Cup Day, when the company gives away free holiday cups with the purchase of a holiday beverage. The union dubbed the action the Red Cup Rebellion.

Employees of the store at Houston and St. Mary’s — which was the first in the city to join the Starbucks Workers United union earlier this year — and the others are striking to protest working conditions. The strike continues from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. today, organizers said.

Workers say they’re seeking better pay, more consistent schedules and higher staffing levels in busy stores. Stores in 25 states planned to take part in the labor action, according to the union. Strikers are handing out their own red cups with union logos.

Employees at some Starbucks stores in Austin and Houston also have gone on strike.

Starbucks, which opposes the unionization effort, said it is aware of the walkouts and respects its employees’ right to lawfully protest. The Seattle company said it remains committed to all partners and “will continue to work together, side-by-side, to make Starbucks a company that works for everyone.”

The union said the goal is to shut down stores during the strikes, and noted that the company usually has difficulty staffing during Red Cup Day because it’s so busy.

In San Antonio, a union organizer said the store manager and other non-union employees opened the downtown store later Thursday morning. It’s one of seven in the city that has unionized.

At least 257 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize since late last year, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Fifty-seven stores have conducted votes where workers opted not to unionize.

Starbucks and the union have begun contract talks at 53 stores, with 13 additional sessions scheduled, Starbucks Workers United said. No agreements have been reached so far.

The process has been contentious. Earlier this week, a regional director with the NLRB filed a request for an injunction against Starbucks in federal court, saying the company violated labor law when it fired a union organizer in Ann Arbor, Mich. The regional director asked the court to direct Starbucks to reinstate the employee and stop interfering in the unionization campaign nationwide.

It was the fourth time the NLRB has asked a federal court to intervene. Last month the board alleged violations of labor law against employees who sought to unionize in San Antonio, Austin and Dallas.

Meanwhile, Starbucks has asked the NLRB to temporarily suspend all union elections at its U.S. stores, citing allegations from a board employee that regional officials improperly coordinated with union organizers. A decision in that case is pending.

Staff writer Madison Iszler contributed to this report.

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