Michigan Starbucks workers join national ‘Red Cup Rebellion’ strike

Seven Michigan stores are protesting the coffee chain’s annual Red Cup Day

click to enlarge The striking workers are demonstrating outside of their stores, giving out Starbucks Workers United branded cups instead of the chain's reusable red cups. - Prachana Thong-on/ Shutterstock
Prachana Thong-on/ Shutterstock
The striking workers are demonstrating outside of their stores, giving out Starbucks Workers United branded cups instead of the chain's reusable red cups.

The “red wave” has come to Michigan not by way of Republican domination, but by a nationwide labor strike on Starbucks’ Red Cup Day.

On Thursday, workers at seven Michigan Starbucks that voted to unionize joined more than 100 stores across the country in a protest against the chain’s unfair labor practices.

They’re calling it the Red Cup Rebellion in objection to the chain’s Red Cup Day, where customers are offered a reusable Starbucks cup.

The striking workers are demonstrating outside of their stores, giving out Starbucks Workers United branded cups instead. Starbucks Workers United is the collective behind the strike and has supported several unionization efforts of the Seattle-born chain.

Twelve Michigan Starbucks have voted to form a union so far, and a thirteenth location in Royal Oak has petitioned to form a union.

Workers are demanding better working conditions and staffing practices as they call for the company to meet them at the bargaining table.

“Starbucks partners are the face and cornerstone of the Company, yet they are forced into running perpetually understaffed stores, and given inconsistent schedules they can’t rely on,” a statement from Starbucks Workers United reads. “Conditions like these are what led Starbucks partners nationwide to begin unionizing, and the Company has only responded with disdain and disregard for its Employees.”

An employee, or “partner” as the coffee giant calls them, from an Ann Arbor Starbucks was fired in August for fighting to unionize. A National Labor Relations Board judge has ruled that termination was illegal and is requiring Starbucks to offer the worker reinstatement with back pay.

“I would hope that they learn their lesson, that firing people because they want to start a union is not going to solve their problems,” the terminated employee, Hannah Whitbeck, said in an interview with Bloomberg. “In fact, it’s only going to make it worse.”

Michigan locations participating in the Red Cup Rebellion are listed below.
  • 5655 E. Pickard Rd., Mount Pleasant
  • 2624 Lake Lansing Rd., Lansing
  • 1141 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing
  • 17410 Hall Rd., Clinton Township
  • 4585 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor
  • 300 S. Main St., Ann Arbor
  • 120 S. Zeeb Rd., Suite 101, Ann Arbor
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About The Author

Randiah Camille Green

After living in Japan and traveling across Asia, Randiah Camille Green realized Detroit will always be home. And when she says Detroit, she's talking about the hood, not the suburbs. She has bylines in Planet Detroit News , Bridge Detroit , BLAC magazine, and Model D . Her favorite pastimes are meditating...
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