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Thousands of Starbucks workers across U.S., including Philadelphia, walk out on jobs in protest

Starbucks workers in Philadelphia walk off the job in protest
Starbucks workers in Philadelphia walk off the job in protest 02:06

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Thousands of Starbucks workers across the nation, including in Philadelphia, walked out of their jobs Thursday to protest better working conditions, including higher wages.

Outside a Starbucks in University City, a crowd of baristas marched outside the store as part of what they called "Red Cup Rebellion."

Baristas said they chose this particular Thursday to protest because it's "Red Cup Day," which is when Starbucks hands out promotional red cups during one of the busiest days of the company's year. 

"We get no additional staffing with the business, and the amount of customers that we get skyrockets," Sarah Shields, a barista, said. "We are just thrown through the meat grinder effectively."


Barista Sierra Gode claimed staffing levels at her store in Penn Medicine have been slashed by half. 

"Last year, we had 14 people staffed at my store," Gode said. "This year, for our staffing, we had seven to eight people on the floor when we served over a thousand to 2,000 people a day." 

Among their demands, the baristas said they want Starbucks to hire more people and increase wages.

The Starbucks Workers Union hoped the protest will pressure the company to come to the negotiating table.

Baristas said they want negotiations to happen both in-person and over Zoom, but they claim Starbucks solely wants in-person negotiations.

Starbucks released the following statement in response to the protests:

"We are aware that Workers United has publicized a day of action at a small subset of our U.S. stores today. 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.

Starbucks has a long history of surprising and delighting our customers with periodic offers and promotions such as Double Star Days, Thurs-yays, and Red Cup Day.

We understand that these promotional days may change store patterns and traffic, and that's why our retail leaders have the flexibility to build and adjust staffing schedules to reflect the unique and dynamic needs of each store — balancing store resources and expected customer demand to ensure partners (employees) are on the floor when they're needed most. 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 is dedicated to partner-centric scheduling and providing partners with hours that align with their individual needs and preferences is a top priority. This is reflected in Starbucks commitment to diligently create work schedules that carefully balance the availability of our partners with the staffing needs of individual stores. To achieve this, Starbucks collects a range of preferred, minimum, and maximum hours to build a complete picture of partner preferences and assist store managers in scheduling and managing their workforce. This improved scheduling protocol will enable partners to contribute to the personalization of their ideal schedules. Together, these efforts will help Starbucks improve the stability, flexibility, and consistency of schedules.

We call on Workers United to respond to our invitations to bargain contracts for the stores they represent - Workers United hasn't agreed to meet to progress contract bargaining in more than five months."

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