Patrons couldn’t grab a peppermint mocha from the Overland Park Starbucks off 75th Street and Interstate 35 on Thursday.
Or any drink, for that matter.
The coffee shop at 10201 W. 75th St. closed after its baristas walked out in protest over working conditions. The strike began at 7 a.m. and fell on Red Cup Day (Nov. 16), a day in which customers who order a holiday drink receive a free, reusable red cup.
But some employees view the promotional holiday as “infamously hard” and often understaffed, according to a statement from Starbucks Workers United. So baristas in more than 200 stores across the nation chose Red Cup Day to strike after two years of attempting to bargain with the company, which has yet to sign a contract with any of its unionized stores, according to the Associated Press.
(A statement from Starbucks contends that the number of stores affected by the walkouts is under 100.)
Union organizers have said Thursday’s walkouts are the largest Starbucks strikes yet and estimate 5,000 workers participated across the country, according to AP. The strike was expected to last one day.
— UAW (@UAW) November 16, 2023
Among Starbucks Workers United’s demands: higher wages, expanded paid time off and zero tolerance for sexual harassment.
Stores in Lawrence and St. Louis also participated in the strikes.
Just before noon Thursday, cars pulling into the Overland Park drive-thru were met with silence. Signs posted around the store said it was temporarily closed. A few managers remained inside but declined to speak to The Star.
75th I-35 SBWU — the Overland Park store’s union — posted numerous photos and videos of workers holding up signs outside the cafe that read, “No contract no coffee,” and “Honk for workers rights.”
The union did not return The Star’s request for comment. Employees at that store participated in a walkout in March 2022, as well as the national Red Cup Day protest last year, which affected 110 stores.
At the March protest, workers said they felt management was trying to intimidate them after they unionized that year.
“When they’re talking to us, they’re talking about us losing our hours, which means losing our benefits and possibly not being able to pay our bills,” a barista told The Star then.
On Thursday, Starbucks sent The Star a statement in response to questions about the protest, which read, in part: “We have nearly 10,000 stores open right now delighting our customers with the joy of Red Cup Day. … Our stores are often provided additional labor hours to augment staffing in support of planned promotional days, including for Red Cup Day.”