New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Students and faculty join nationwide strike at Astor Place Starbucks

Members of NYU’s Young Democratic Socialists of America and NYU faculty joined a protest outside the Astor Place Starbucks on Thursday, calling on the company to improve working conditions for employees in a daylong nationwide strike.
Yezen Saadah
NYU students and faculty joined the nationwide Starbucks strike on Nov. 16 outside the location on Astor Place. (Yezen Saadah for WSN)

Dozens of students and faculty gathered outside the Starbucks location on Astor Place Thursday morning, joining a nationwide strike calling for better working conditions, wages and benefits for Starbucks employees. Among the protesters were members of NYU’s chapter of Young Democratic Socialists of America and the union representing full-time and part-time clerical employees at the university. 

The daylong strike took place on Red Cup Day, an annual promotional event where Starbucks customers who purchase at least one holiday-themed beverage receive a reusable red cup. Starbucks Workers United, the union representing around 9,000 Starbucks employees across the country, organized the protest, which saw participation from thousands of workers across more than 360 of the chain’s locations. 

Brandon Wu, a sophomore and member of NYU YDSA, criticized the university for its affiliation with the Starbucks location on West Fourth Street, which accepts Dining Dollars from student meal plans. Wu accused the university of being complicit in the company’s labor violations, including increasing wages and benefits only for non-union employees. The university did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

“NYU has shown continued acceptance of the status quo, which is particularly harmful,” Wu said. “If NYU wants to maintain this veneer of progressive values, they have to actually commit to those.”

According to SWU, student-led groups at the University of Chicago, Boston University and Georgetown University are also calling on their respective universities to cut ties with local Starbucks locations. Cornell University has already initiated plans to end its partnership with Starbucks by June 2025 due to the company’s labor law violations.

Earlier this year, SWU filed an unfair labor practice claim with the National Labor Relations Board, the independent federal agency that protects labor rights, claiming that the company has refused to engage in negotiations regarding pay hikes for non-union workers. 

“Hopefully this will make them hear more about what’s going on at stores because again, we don’t have our voices heard enough from Starbucks,” Edwin Palma Solis, a Starbucks employee at Astor Place and SWU member, told WSN. “They’ve been doing anything to not get in contact with us when it comes to negotiating our contract or speaking with us in person. No changes have been made in the past year.”  

According to an employee at the protest, the Astor Place Starbucks location serves around 300 customers during a typical hour on Red Cup Day. SWU is urging the company to stop mobile orders on promotional days, which it says forces workers to manage an increased workload without adequate staffing support.

Employees at the Astor Place Starbucks announced their petition for union status to Starbucks CEO and former president Kevin Johnson last spring, and have since joined a growing national movement to unionize for increased pay and improved working conditions. Mary Baca, an employee who took part in the protest, has worked for Starbucks for nearly four years, including three months at the Astor Place location. 

“Red Cup Day is a day that all Starbucks do, and it’s a day that every Starbucks employee would agree sucks. It’s the worst,” Baca said. “The fact that so many stores are protesting today shows that it’s not just a certain area, it’s nationwide, and it makes us more united in an ideal world.” 

Lily Mobraaten, a sophomore and member of NYU YDSA, said she hopes the nationwide demonstrations will help urge the company to improve the working conditions of union employees. 

“What’s really going to get larger corporations to pay attention to is when they’re losing money, because ultimately, that’s what pushes them to actually make changes,” Mobraaten said. “I hope that stores across the country are taking a hit today and that leads them to listen to workers’ demands.” 

Contact Aashna Miharia and Luke McCrory at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Aashna Miharia
Aashna Miharia, Deputy News Editor
Aashna Miharia is a first-year studying journalism and public policy with a minor in business studies. She’s from the Boston area and a novelist, coffee enthusiast and lover of independent bookstores. You can usually find her listening to an audiobook while wandering around New York City or on Instagram @aashnamiharia.
Yezen Saadah
Yezen Saadah, Editor-in-Chief
Yezen Saadah is a junior studying cinema studies, journalism and Middle Eastern studies. He's a lover of cinema, history, art and literature, and he enjoys writing about pretty much anything. If he isn't in the newsroom or at the movies, he's probably just trying to enjoy his day off. Contact him on Instagram @yezen.saadah or send tips to [email protected]

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