Starbucks workers ‘Double Down’ with strike before holidays, a month after Red Cup Rebellion strike

About a month after the Red Cup Rebellion, Starbucks workers nationwide held a three-day strike that they deemed the “Double Down Strike”. Workers walked out. Dec 16-18 over much of the same issues that the company did not address after the last strike. These include inadequate staffing and refusing to bargain in good faith. Eugene workers have been able to have three bargaining sessions since the Red Cup Rebellion, however the company has walked out each time when the union tries to bring in other workers that can’t be there over Zoom.

On Oct. 17, workers at over 100 Starbucks, including all 7 Eugene union stores, locations across the country went on strike when the company held its Red Cup Day Promotion. Workers say Red Cup Day, the day when Starbucks unveils its holiday menu and provides a red cup to customers when they make a drink purchase from the menu, is the company’s largest grossing day. On the picket lines workers instead handed out red cups of their own, adorned with a union logo, and free coffee.

Across the country many of the same stores seeing that Starbucks did not address their issues after the Red Cup Rebellion Strike, felt they should “Double Down”. In the midst of holiday season, when many come to buy gift cards, Starbucks workers held their Double Down Strike. In Eugene, all seven union stores once again went on strike and they held picket lines at the Franklin and West 11th shops. The strike was capped off with a rally at the Franklin store at 1:30 PM with around 30 people including support from members of DSA, RWC, and IWW.

After months of kicking their feet, Starbucks sent management to meet with workers at the bargaining table in Eugene. However the executives swiftly leave before they are able to present their proposals because of workers having a Zoom set up to bring in other union members.

“They have these very pernicious claims about the fact we could be recording secretly, and they don’t consent to it for those reasons. And the people who are not physically here in person aren’t committed enough to really be there to bargain in good faith, which is ridiculous.” Ian Meagher of the Franklin Starbucks said.

Eugene Starbucks Workers United is also building strength through expanding membership. A little over a year ago Starbucks workers in Buffalo voted to join Workers United, and in the time since that vote workers at over 270 other stores joined the union. In Eugene, workers have organized 7 of 8 stores, with the only loss being at the Oakway Mall store. Recently they added the Pioneer Parkway store to the Starbucks Workers United union. Now they aim to organize the rest of the stores in their district.

The day before the Double Down strike Meagher took part in a panel hosted by Eugene Weekly where he talked about Starbucks Workers United organizing efforts. Also on the panel was Bill Bradley, an LTD worker and ATU 757 officer, and Chelsea Swift, a CAHOOTS driver who helped unionize workers with Teamsters Local 206. Both other members of the panel said they were inspired by Starbucks Workers United.

Meagher expressed the difficulties and benefits of unionizing at Starbucks where the company puts a strong effort into “internal marketing”. Whereas external marketing is the ways that a company tries to get customers to buy its products, internal marketing is when a company tries to get its employees to buy into its culture. Meagher said it presented a challenge because it made it hard to buy into the unions message for some, but for many that bought into the company culture they saw over the last year that Starbucks had not been treating them like “partners” anymore, and were easy to win over to the union cause.

Workers at multiple stores in Eugene have filed with the NLRB, and still have open, cases claims against Starbucks alleging “refusal to bargain/bad faith or surface bargaining”.