Thursday’s protest was the second one in the past year at the Millwood Avenue Starbucks. (Photos by Addison Hinkle)

Four frustrated employees stood outside the Starbucks on Millwood Avenue on Thursday holding signs with messages that included “The CEO who stole our wages” and “No rights, no wages.”

The four were disgruntled because, they said, Starbucks failed to follow through with a Oct. 25 contract negotiation date for its Southeast stores.

The Starbucks on Millwood was one of 112 Starbucks across the nation to participate in a day-long strike on Starbucks’ annual Red Cup day. It’s the only store in the Midlands that voted earlier to unionize.

Vijay Tipathi, 24, has been working at the Millwood Starbucks since August 2019. Tripathi held a sign with a creative swing on Santa’s naughty and nice list. On the “naughty” side was a “labor-gouging CEO, cowardly lawyers, unfair labor practices and violations and performative progressivism.” On the “nice” side was “baristas that keep you energized” and “baristas that fight for what we deserve.”

”They’re supposed to work with us in good faith,” Tipathi said. “So today we’re protesting that unfair labor practice.”

The chain has said it respects workers’ right nationally to engage in lawful protest but continues in its effort in “uplifting the Starbucks experience for our partners and customers.”

The strike is the largest so far by Starbucks Workers United, with around 2,000 workers protesting, according to CNN’s website.

Starbucks said in a statement that, “counter to what the union has shared, Starbucks has continued to engage Workers United representatives in a good faith effort to move the bargaining process forward. As a result of our efforts, we’ve shown up to more than 50 bargaining sessions across the country and have another 60 scheduled in the coming weeks.”

The Starbucks on Millwood was still operating Thursday, except for mobile orders. Management at Millwood declined to comment on the demonstration.

“It’s really infuriating that, like, they’re betraying their own employees, because it’s management that’s in there right now,” Tripathi said. “… There’s five of them in there. But when we’re running a two-, three-person play, they still expect us to be running the store at full capacity. So, it’s really frustrating.”

The demonstrations were held on Red Cup Day, one of the busiest days of the year for Starbucks, when the company gives out reusable, holiday-themed cups.

Rollin Beaird has worked at the Millwood Starbucks since March 2020 and wants the corporation to know there are consequences for not negotiating with employees.

“That kind of behavior is unacceptable,” Beaird said. “For a busy day like Red Cup Day where everyone is expecting, you know, full capacity, … when we don’t even get the bare minimum of a contract. There are consequences to that.”

The store made the news earlier this year when workers voted to become the third in the state to unionize.

The Starbucks on Millwood continued to operate despite the protests.