Workers rally at entrance to drive-thru at Starbucks in Farmingville on...

Workers rally at entrance to drive-thru at Starbucks in Farmingville on Thursday. Credit: James Carbone

Workers at more than 200 U.S. Starbucks locations, including a pair on Long Island, walked off the job Thursday in what organizers said was the largest strike yet in the two-year-old effort to unionize the company’s stores.

The Workers United union chose Starbucks' annual Red Cup Day to stage the walkout since it’s usually one of the busiest days of the year. Starbucks expects to give away thousands of reusable cups Thursday to customers who order holiday drinks.

The union said it was expecting more than 5,000 workers to take part in its “Red Cup Rebellion.” Workers were expected to picket for part of the day and visit nonunion stores the rest of the day, the union said. Around 30 stores also staged walkouts on Wednesday.

Unionized stores in Farmingville and Westbury participated in the nationwide strike Thursday, while Starbucks workers in Lynbrook picketed the coffee giant's Sunrise Highway location Wednesday. 

In total, workers at five Long Island locations have voted to unionize over the last two years, including Massapequa and Wantagh.

Anthony Price, 22, a barista in Westbury, said the strike is meant to bring attention to the fact that Starbucks has yet to negotiate a union contract with any of the stores that have unionized. 

“It’s appalling to be honest,” said Price, a Uniondale resident who has worked at Starbucks for two years. “We’re here making the money for them. If it wasn’t for their baristas, the people who work their floors, they would not make any money.”

Price, who picketed Thursday along fellow workers, said Red Cup Day represents one of the company's single busiest days. 

Starbucks said Thursday that many of the stores with striking workers remained open, staffed by supervisors, managers and employees who chose not to strike or visited from nearby stores to pick up additional hours.

“We have nearly 10,000 stores open right now delighting our customers with the joy of Red Cup Day,” the company said.

At least 363 company-operated Starbucks stores in 41 states have voted to unionize since late 2021.

With The Associated Press

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