Pro-Starbucks union signs displayed on a table.

This Year, #BoycottStarbucks Has Nothing To Do With Christmas Coffee Cups

#BoycottStarbucks used to be a hashtag utilized by Christian conservatives as a way of protesting the company’s supposed “War on Christmas.” However, now it is used by an entirely different group for very different reasons.

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On October 9th, Starbucks Workers United tweeted the message “Solidarity with Palestine!” as a show of support for victims of the ongoing Israeli bombardments in Gaza.

Starbucks, in response, has decided to sue the organization for “trademark infringement,” saying that Starbucks Workers United cannot use the Starbucks name, nor can the labor group continue to use its green, circular logo as it closely resembles that of the coffee company.

The executive vice president and chief partner officer at Starbucks, Sara Kelly, stated: “We strongly disagree with the views expressed by Workers United, including its local affiliates, union organizers and those who identify as members of ‘Starbucks Workers United’ — none of these groups speak for Starbucks Coffee Company and do not represent our company’s views, positions, or beliefs.”

However, many workers and customers see a different motivation behind Starbucks’ claims and are calling out what they see as a clear attempt at union busting.

Starbucks’ history of union-busting

Starbucks is infamous for doing everything in its power to prevent its workers from unionizing and undercutting unions when they do form.

Many claim that suing Starbucks Workers United for trademark infringement is just the corporation’s latest underhanded move to prevent unionization.

The union has also refused to take back its statement in support of Palestine and in fact, doubled down and called out Starbucks for its attempt to “score points by baselessly attacking our union.” Starbucks Workers United has pinned a tweet stating that they “condemn Starbucks for shamefully using this devastating humanitarian crisis to make false statements against our union and vilify us.”

Still, whether the lawsuit is successful or not, it will cost the union money to fight in court unless they can get pro-bono representation.

The Starbucks boycott impact

As a result of this back-and-forth, many people are choosing to boycott Starbucks out of solidarity with the workers and the people of Palestine. The Women’s March has already stated that it will not serve Starbucks at its convention in Milwaukee. Other unions and workers groups (along with potential customers on social media) have also voiced their support for the Starbucks workers, their union, and any boycott of Starbucks itself.

How successful this strike has been/will be depends on consumers, of course. On the Starbucks subreddit, some baristas have noted a marked decline in customers since #BoycottStarbucks started, but others say they are as busy as ever.

Only time will tell which side of this Starbucks battle the consumers ultimately choose to support.

(featured image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Kimberly Terasaki
Kimberly Terasaki is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She has been writing articles for them since 2018, going on 5 years of working with this amazing team. Her interests include Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Horror, intersectional feminism, and fanfiction; some are interests she has held for decades, while others are more recent hobbies. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan.