On November 17, Starbucks’ annual “Red Cup Day,” workers at 114 Starbucks cafes around the country held a one-day “Red Cup Rebellion” strike. Members of Starbucks Workers United, organizing under the umbrella of Service Employees International Union (SEIU)’s affiliate Workers United, picketed in front of Starbucks stores and gave away red cups emblazoned with union messages. Starbucks workers in Chile, Brazil, Germany, Serbia, Belgium, Spain, and the UK held solidarity actions. This is the first nationally-coordinated multi-store strike at Starbucks. The union is now planning a coordinated, multiple-city rally on December 9.
On November 17 LNS Executive Director Larry Williams, Jr. sent this letter to LNS network members:
I’m writing to you today because we just found out that union-busting Starbucks lied to us on climate change.
In 2019, the coffee conglomerate promised it would cut warming pollution from all its operations 50 percent by 2030. But since then, Starbucks has actually emitted MORE global warming pollution every year, even when the pandemic forced them to close stores and reduce operations.
At the same time Starbucks is polluting the world, it’s raking in billions of dollars in profit while engaging in a major union-busting campaign. They’ve recently fired more than 125 union leaders across the country.
We support the striking Starbucks workers because worker power and climate action go hand in hand. With a strong movement for livable wages on a healthy planet, Starbucks workers can be the vanguard of the movement for a Green New Deal from below.
But first, Starbucks needs to make good on its promises.
During the pandemic, CEO Howard Schultz has seen his personal fortune grow by nearly $1 billion. Starbucks can afford to pay its workers a living wage, and it can afford to lower its carbon emissions. This is the only way WE can afford to make a living on a living planet.
We’re proud of the Starbucks workers unionizing nationwide. We’ve noted the mass organizing trend and hope it continues. We know that organized labor can be a powerful force for change on climate. But only if we all band together.
Tell Starbucks to stop serving lies, stop union-busting, and take action on climate change!
We’re standing strong with Starbucks workers and will be doing more to support them in the coming months. Stay tuned.
Larry Williams, Jr.
Labor Network for Sustainability