Starbucks workers in Biddeford participate in the ‘Red Cup Rebellion,’ a nationwide strike demanding the company fully staff union stores and bargain in good faith. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Starbucks workers in Biddeford are participating in the “Red Cup Rebellion,” a nationwide unfair labor practices strike demanding Starbucks fully staff union stores and bargain in good faith.

The one-day strike on Thursday was planned to coincide with the company’s Red Cup Day, the annual event when customers receive free Starbucks cups with certain purchases. Striking workers demonstrated outside more than 100 unionized stores and handed out Starbucks Workers United cups to customers.

“Starbucks partners are the face and cornerstone of the company, yet they are forced into running perpetually understaffed stores, and given inconsistent schedules they can’t rely on. Conditions like these are what led Starbucks partners nationwide to begin unionizing, and the company has only responded with disdain and disregard for its employees,” Starbucks Workers United said in a statement.

Starbucks Workers United represents nearly 7,000 workers from more than 260 locations. The Biddeford location was the first store in Maine to join the union. Workers at the Starbucks at the corner of Middle and Exchange streets in Portland’s Old Port voted in October to unionize.

The Biddeford workers also held a strike on Labor Day to protest unfair labor practices they say they encountered after voting to join the union, including reduced store hours and retaliation.

Since the start of the unionization effort, the National Labor Relations Board has issued 39 official complaints against Starbucks that encompass over 9,000 alleged violations of federal labor law.


Starbucks announced this week that the store in the Old Port will close in December. The company said the closure is because the owner of the historic Boyd Block on Middle Street is making the business vacate during renovations that will take nine months. But Starbucks Workers United and labor advocates called the closure a union-busting tactic.

Tim Soley, president and CEO of East Brown Cow Management, the owner of the Boyd Block, issued a statement Thursday that said his team made Starbucks aware of its plans in March 2022, informing the company that renovations requiring Starbucks to temporarily vacate the space at 178 Middle St. would start in January and run through September 2023.

“Our team began working with Starbucks in March of this year in preparation and – up until we learned otherwise on Tuesday – we believed they would be returning to the space once the renovations were complete,” Soley said. “We had offered a number of accommodations in order to keep them as a tenant, including an alternative temporary location, rent incentives and construction concessions.”

Another first-floor tenant, Bangor Savings Bank, also will have to vacate the space during renovations but has agreed to return once the renovations are compete, Soley said.

“The Starbucks location sits on a busy corner in the Old Port and will soon be made available to lease for a fall 2023 occupancy,” he said.

Soley said his company will be converting the building’s upper floors into an Urban Home property, which he said is Airbnb for business travelers. East Brown Cow already operates a few of these living arrangements at 121 Middle St.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.

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