CHICAGO (CBS) -- Thousands of Starbucks workers across the country have gone on strike on one of the coffee chain's busiest days of the year, including at some stores in the Chicago area.
Starbucks Workers United represents workers at more than 340 Starbucks stores nationwide. Workers hit the picket line Thursday morning, including the Starbucks store on Armitage and Hoyne in Bucktown.
They're calling on the company to bargain fairly on issues like staffing, pay, and benefits. They are also demanding Starbucks respect their right to unionize.
They're protesting on Starbucks' popular Red Cup Day, which is usually one of the biggest sales events of the holiday season. On Red Cup Day, Starbucks hands out free reusable cups to customers.
The union wants Starbucks to turn off mobile ordering on future promotional days like Red Cup Day, saying such offers bring in a flood of customers, without extra staff to handle the additional orders.
According to the union, many drink orders end up abandoned, and baristas are left to deal with angry complaints about long wait times, or about missing out when the free cups run out, as lines end up out the door at most stores.
In response to the strike, Starbucks claimed the workers' union has not agreed to meet for contract negotiations in more than five months.
"We remain committed to working with all partners, side-by-side, to elevate the everyday, and we hope that Workers United's priorities will shift to include the shared success of our partners and working to negotiate contracts for those they represent," the company said in a statement.
The company also said individual stores have the ability to adjust staffing schedules as needed on promotional days to ensure sufficient staffing.
"Notably, our store schedules are created three weeks in advance with our partners' availability and preferences at the forefront and our stores are often provided additional labor hours to augment staffing in support of planned promotional days," Starbucks said.
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