Starbucks union pokes the chain by debuting its own holiday red cup

The labor group said it will distribute its version on Red Cup Day to patrons who support the chain's unionization. Guests might also be encouraged to sing along with strikers.
Starbucks Workers Union created its own version of the chain's popular holiday cups. / Photo courtesy of Starbucks Workers Union

The union organizing Starbucks is poking fun at the brand amid ongoing contract negotiations by issuing its own pro-labor version of the coffee giant’s red holiday-edition cup.

Starbucks Workers Union (SWU) says it will provide the Union Red Cup to customers at organized units on Red Cup Day, the annual occasion when Starbucks releases its year-end limited-edition drink container. This season marks the 25th year the chain has introduced a cup sporting a special design to commemorate year-end festivities. 

The union says it will also encourage patrons to “get into the holiday spirit” by showing their solidarity with baristas who might be picketing a store, perhaps by “singing picket jingles.”

It also hints that it may promote Union Yes holiday drinks, a play on Starbucks’ highly popular limited-time year-end beverage line, anchored this and many past years by the iconic Pumpkin Spice Latte.

The effort is intended to get Starbucks to “bargain with workers in good faith” as new contracts are hammered out for the 160 stores whose staffs have voted to unionize, SWU said.

In revealing the union cup, SWU revealed that its negotiations wish list includes determining what’s just cause for terminations; a tolerant dress code; and consistent scheduling.

Starbucks declined to comment on SWU’s plans to provide its own versions of the chain’s iconic holiday cup.

The date of this year’s Red Cup Day has not yet been revealed, though several websites have asserted that it will be Nov. 17.  The SWU will apparently provide the Union Red Cup outside of selected stores that have voted to unionize.

Limited-edition holiday red cups have become extremely popular among die-hard Starbucks fans. When a cup whose design they disliked was issued a number of years ago, a controversy erupted.

SWU is an affiliate of Workers United, which in turn is associated with Service Employees International Union, the nation’s second largest labor organization.

The union has been organizing Starbucks store by store since August 2021.

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