Red Cup Rebellion: St. Louis Starbucks workers strike, march, rally for a new contract

Action took place on Red Cup Day, one of Starbucks’ busiest days of the year

Missouri Correspondent

NO CONTRACT, NO COFFEE: More than 100 Starbucks workers, union members and Labor allies gathered in solidarity at the Starbucks at 1216 Hampton Ave. as part of a national unfair labor practice strike. This was one of three stores that shut down. – Labor Tribune photo

St. Louis – A crowd of more than 100 Starbucks workers, union members and Labor allies gathered at the Starbucks at 1216 Hampton Ave. on Nov. 17 to support workers there who are trying to negotiate a fair contract with the anti-union coffee giant.

Workers from two other St. Louis-area union stores, Lindbergh and Clayton Rd. and Hanley and Dale Ave., shut their shops down until 10:30 a.m. as part of Starbucks Workers United first national Unfair Labor Practice strike on behalf of its union shops.

A total of 111 stores nationwide took part in the action on Red Cup Day, which is the launch of the chain’s holiday drink menu and customers who buy a holiday drink receive a free plastic reusable holiday cup. It’s one of Starbucks’ busiest days of the year – the equivalent of Black Friday for the caffeine-glomerate.

FAIR CONTRACT NOW: Starbucks Workers from the Hanley and Dale and the Lindbergh and Clayton locations marched to the Starbucks at 1216 Hampton Ave. on Nov. 17 for a rally to support workers there who are trying to negotiate a fair contract with the anti-union coffee giant. – Labor Tribune photo

Around 11 a.m., striking workers from other stores marched down to the Hampton Avenue location for a rally. Riley Staack, the Hampton location’s strike captain, said workers at her shop were protesting the failure of Starbucks to negotiate a fair contract in good faith.

“On Nov. 2, we walked into what was supposed to be an eight-hour bargaining session, and Starbucks’ lawyer walked out four minutes and 15 seconds after the meeting began,” she said. “We had heard it was happening with other Starbucks negotiating sessions so we were expecting it.”

Eric Moore, Starbucks Workers United area director of the Chicago-Midwest Regional Joint Board, explained that when Starbucks originally started negotiating contracts, the parties involved were both in the room and on Zoom.

“They agreed to hybrid bargaining in Buffalo, N.Y. and Mesa, Ariz. when those contracts were negotiated, but now the lawyers say they won’t negotiate using the hybrid model. They’re basically dragging their feet.”

Union members and Labor allies showed up to support the workers, including representatives from the St. Louis A. Philip Randolph Institute, St. Louis Faith Labor Alliance, Jobs with Justice, Fight for $15, Teamsters, Insulators Local 1, SEIU Local 1, UNITE HERE Local 74, St. Louis Gateway Local 8 of the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and others.

“It’s important that we come out and support you,” said Fred Wolfmeyer, former president of St. Louis Gateway Local 8 APWU. “Organizing is important – look at yourselves, this is community. Even though we all come from different backgrounds, we all have one common thread – the union.”

The Rev. Krissy Avise-Rouse, of Epiphany United Church of Christ in Benton Park, also addressed the crowd on behalf of Jobs with Justice St. Louis Faith Labor Alliance.

“All the different scriptures talk about workers’ rights,” the Rev. Avise-Rouse said. “God demands worker justice. That’s why the Faith Community stands in solidarity with the Labor Movement. I tell Starbucks every time I write them that I love their coffee, but I love their baristas more.”

Nationwide, Starbucks partners are demanding the company meet them at the bargaining table to create improved standards for staffing and scheduling, along with a host of other bargaining proposals that have been crafted by partner leaders across the country.

Starbucks Workers United represents over 260 locations accounting for nearly 7,000 workers in the country. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued 39 official complaints against Starbucks, encompassing over 900 alleged violations of federal Labor law.

The Solidarity Fund by Coworker provides financial assistance to Starbucks worker activists. Contributions will provide direct financial support to people organizing for safer jobs, higher pay and more. For more information or to donate, visit


Starbucks workers speak out

In bone-chilling 24-degree weather, Starbucks workers on the picket lines last week at three locacations were frank about why they were on strike:

• John Gamache: “We’re here in solidarity because Starbucks has walked out of over 50 bargaining sessions across the country…avoiding their responsibilities to their workers….” (He is the grandson of Teamsters Local 688 President Ron Gamache who died in 2016)

• Sarah Wentzel: “It’s time to set a precedent for all workers … to get higher wages, more staffing and get rid of short staffing where you have just enough people to get by, creating more stress. These are real jobs and real people. We need to be treated as such.”

• Conner Donnelly: “There is just a lack of respect, terrible hours, some guaranteed, others not. What they are doing is not for the workers….”

• Meghan Mills: “We love our jobs, love our customers, but we don’t have time to do our jobs as we’d like. We’re fighting for a seat at the bargaining table to get the tools to do our jobs as well as we can.”

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