Starbucks Coffee's holiday red cups have become synonymous with the holidays for many coffee drinkers. Across the nation, Starbucks branches hand out free plastic cups on Red Cup Day, marking one of the coffee chain's busiest days of the year. This year, one Cheyenne Starbucks location won't be handing out red cups today, November 16. In fact, they won't be handing out any coffee at all.

The workers at Cheyenne's Central Avenue Starbucks location are on strike today, joining a movement tagged 'the Red Cup Rebellion' by union workers across the country. A press release issued early this morning states that striking locations have banded together, demanding that 'the coffee giant stop illegally refusing to bargain with baristas over staffing, scheduling, and other issues.'

Starbucks Unions on Strike: What to Know

The Cheyenne strike committee shared a statement demanding mobile orders no longer be available on promotion days like Red Cup Day when orders are higher than usual. Workers cite promotion days as a source of undue stress, indicating that the influx of customers into stores is met with little preparation - the press release pointed out that there isn't "any additional staffing to cover the influx of orders" and that on promo days like Red Cup Day, "drink orders pile up and are abandoned, lines are out the door, and Starbucks workers are left to handle angry customers...all while trying to make complicated holiday specialty beverages as fast as possible."

The problem has culminated in today's strike, with union workers refusing to participate in the holiday promotion. "We are still awaiting for corporations to stop dragging their feet on the bargaining process. Change needs to happen in this company, and we can not have corporate cover their eyes and ears forever. We as PARTNERS deserve a contract!" said the committee in the statement.

Starbucks Responds to the Red Cup Rebellion

Claims of union busting have haunted Starbucks for the last few years, only escalating since the first location unionized in 2021. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has cited the corporation numerous times for various offenses, spanning over 20 violations of federal labor law, CBS News reports. Violations include laying off workers seeking unionization and only increasing wages for non-union employees. hundreds of times when it unjustly laid-off workers who wanted to unionize, an NLRB judge ruled in March.

As unions grow in strength with support from  Workers United Labor Union, demands for better treatment from Starbucks Corporate have reached new volume - however, Starbucks Corporate argues that Workers United hasn't been pulling its weight in the bargaining process. "Despite escalating rhetoric and recurring rallies demanding a contract, Workers United hasn't agreed to meet to progress contract bargaining in more than four months," Andrew Tull, a Starbucks spokesperson, told TIME in a statement. " 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," Tull added.

Cheyenne Central Ave. Strike Duration

The Cheyenne Central Avenue Starbucks will remain closed all of Thursday, November 16, and reopen on Friday, November 17, 2023.

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Gallery Credit: Chris Compendio