ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Workers at the Starbucks location on Perryville, at 3001 N Perryville Road are on strike Thursday protesting against “unfair labor practice” and are demanding to unionize.
Starbucks workers nationwide are taking part in a Red Cup Rebellion, timed to coincide with the corporation’s Red Cup Day, a day on which thousands of Starbucks locations are offering a branded cup with select purchases.
Workers say they’re seeking better pay, more consistent schedules and higher staffing levels in busy stores. Starbucks opposes the unionization effort, saying the company functions best when it works directly with employees. The Seattle coffee giant has more than 9,000 company-owned stores in the U.S.
Stores in 25 states planned to take part in the labor action, according to Starbucks Workers United, the group organizing the effort. Some workers planned to picket all day while others planned shorter walkouts. The union said the goal is to shut the stores down during the walkouts.
“We are standing up to corporate’s blatant refusal to bargain in good faith and show
respect for voices,” said Perryville Starbucks employee Mary Wells. “Instead of having enough dignity to listen to our proposal, they instead choose to use the riches they’ve attained off our backs to pay lawyers thousands of dollars an hour to delay the bargaining process. We are rebelling against that today.”
At least 257 Starbucks stores have voted to unionize since late last year, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Fifty-seven stores have held votes where workers opted not to unionize.
Starbucks and the union have begun contract talks at 53 stores, with 13 additional sessions scheduled, Starbucks Workers United said. No agreements have been reached so far.
The process has been contentious. Earlier this week, a regional director with the NLRB filed a request for an injunction against Starbucks in federal court, saying the company violated labor law when it fired a union organizer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The regional director asked the court to direct Starbucks to reinstate the employee and stop interfering in the unionization campaign nationwide.
Meanwhile, Starbucks has asked the NLRB to temporarily suspend all union elections at its U.S. stores, citing allegations from a board employee that regional officials improperly coordinated with union organizers. A decision in that case is pending.
The workers at the Perryville location say they’ll be on strike from 4 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Thursday.
Workers from other local Starbucks locations, who are not participating in the strike, have been called in to ensure the location remains open.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.