Starbucks Workers United union members and supporters on a picket line outside a Starbucks coffee shop in New York, US, on Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. Thousands of Starbucks Corp. baristas went on strike Thursday, claiming the coffee chain refuses to fairly negotiate with their union.
New York CNN  — 

Thousands of Starbucks workers at hundreds of stores went on strike Thursday, as they protested the lack of their first contract despite a nearly two-year organizing drive.

The strike at Starbucks, which some have dubbed the Red Cup Rebellion, was intended to last just one day, unlike recent strikes by the United Auto Workers union at the nation’s three unionized automakers or strikes by SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America, which shut down production of many movies and television shows.

But the union said the limited-duration strike on a key promotion day for Starbucks is important in its efforts to win their first contract at the chain. And it is a sign that even with more than 200,000 strikers leaving picket lines in the last month, that there are levels of union activism at America’s workplaces that haven’t been seen in decades.

The union, Starbucks Workers United, won its first representation vote at the company in December 2021, at a store in Buffalo, New York. Since then, it has won more votes at 368 other stores out of 454 elections. But there are still no contracts for any of the more than 9,000 union members spread across the stores.