In a show of protest against their working and pay conditions, Starbucks employees nationwide staged a walkout on Thursday during Red Cup Day, the company’s biggest sales event of the year.

Starbucks Workers United staged a “Red Cup Rebellion” walkout on the same day as last year’s strike, and for those who wished to support the union’s demands, there were also local events planned.

The protests were held in front of the Starbucks at 1290 S. Normal Ave. To participate, demonstrators were given free coffee, stickers, and fliers. Customers and supporters were encouraged to join “in solidarity with workers rising up for a fairer workplace,” according to the union’s statement.

According to the union, one of these events was held in Tempe at the Starbucks Memorial Union, which is situated at Arizona State University, between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Why are Starbucks workers striking?

Organizers of the local Red Cup Rebellion event stated that their objectives were to boycott Starbucks and inform attendees and onlookers about their “nefarious” labor practices.

In an effort to support Palestinian territories as fighting intensifies and the number of casualties from the conflict rises, the event was coordinated in collaboration with other student organizations, both on and off campus.

“We alongside many campuses and organizations across the country will be joining in on the Red Cup rebellion,” said the description of the event. “We support the Palestinian people in their struggle for freedom from settler colonialism! We support the Starbucks employees in their struggle for improved working conditions and compensation.”

The Arizona Republic spoke with Sophie Levitt, one of the event organizers from Students Against Apartheid at ASU, who said she attended to support the Palestinian people and the Starbucks employees who were on strike on Thursday.

Jewish activist Levitt stated that a major factor in her support for the rights of those who are oppressed or in vulnerable situations is her religious beliefs.

At the event, protesters called for the elimination of Starbucks from all ASU campuses and the termination of ASU’s relationships with businesses that, in their words, supported Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory.

The 21-year-old Levitt declared, “I think it’s really important to support liberation for any group.” “I’ve been organizing for the Palestine community since 2018 or so, but with the recent escalation in Gaza, we’ve seen so many more people mobilizing and becoming aware of the issue.”

The protest was also planned in response to a federal lawsuit filed by Starbucks against the union in Iowa over a pro-Palestinian post shared by a union social media account in the early days of the Hamas-Israel war, according to court records obtained by USA TODAY last month. Other ASU students, former Starbucks baristas, and event organizers told The Arizona Republic about this.

As per the organizers, one of the primary objectives of the demonstration was to terminate the collaboration between Starbucks and ASU, thereby preventing Starbucks from operating stores or vending its merchandise on ASU campuses.

However, the group clarified that it was not specifically calling for the termination of the College Achievement Program, which offers qualified Starbucks employees full tuition reimbursement for an online bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University.

The company had just announced pay increases and new benefits for U.S. employees when the strike broke out.  

The business declared that salaries for staff members will rise in the upcoming year, with eligible tenured partners receiving a raise of at least 3%. At least 4% will be awarded to eligible partners who have worked for two to five years, and at least 5% will be given to those who have worked for five years or longer. 

Ninety days after hiring, accrued paid vacation time, as well as new certification and credential programs, are additional benefits.

Attendees at the event said they view the new benefits and pay increases as an achievement of union pressure.

What is Red Cup Day at Starbucks?

Red Cup Day is an annual event in which participating U.S. Starbucks stores gift reusable red holiday cups to customers who order a handcrafted holiday beverage.Free red cups were available for walk-up orders and orders through the Starbucks app, DoorDash, or Uber Eats. Supplies were limited, the company said.


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