Hundreds of Starbucks workers went on strike on Thursday, right as the coffee chain held its annual Red Cup Day, one of its busiest days of the year.
On Red Cup Day, Starbucks distributes reusable cups to customers who order a Christmas- or Thanksgiving-themed drink such as peppermint mochas or chestnut praline lattes.
Workers at more than 100 US stores said they would participate in the strike over pay and conditions. The Seattle coffee company has more than 9,000 corporate-run locations in the US.
Thursday's work stoppages amount to the largest strike since Starbucks shops began to unionise last year.
Starbucks Workers United, which has unionised about 260 of the company’s sites over the past year, said Starbucks has refused to negotiate in good faith, and that not a single store has reached a collective bargaining agreement with the company.
The company has denied the union’s claims that it is not bargaining fairly, and has filed claims with the National Labour Relations Board accusing Workers United of refusing to negotiate in good faith.
A Starbucks representative said the company will respect workers’ rights to participate in lawful protests.