The Workers United union targeted Starbucks’ Red Cup Day to stage a one-day walkout at more than 200 of the coffee retailer’s locations across the U.S. in an action organizers said was the biggest strike yet in an ongoing unionizing effort.

The union scheduled the event to coincide with one of the busiest days of the year for Seattle-based Starbucks’ outlets where customers can get a free reusable cup with the purchase of a specialty holiday beverage. Workers United expected 5,000 workers to participate in a day that included picketing and visits with employees at non-union stores.

Starbucks employees were early in during a period of U.S. labor activism that has seen strikes by workers at Amazon, U.S. auto manufacturing plants and by Hollywood writers and actors. More than 360 company-operated Starbucks stores in 41 states have voted to unionize since late 2021, according to a report from The Associated Press. And, at least 457,000 workers have participated in 315 strikes in the U.S. just this year, according to Johnnie Kallas, a Ph.D. candidate and the project director of Cornell University’s Labor Action Tracker.

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This is the second consecutive year that Workers United has staged an action on Red Cup Day with employees at about 110 stores participating last year. CNN reports that most stores remained open through previous work stoppage actions, bringing in employees from non-union stores to maintain operations amid the strikes.

Juniper Schweitzer, who has worked for Starbucks for 16 years, said she loves the company and its ideals but believes it’s not living up to those ideals in an interview with AP.

“They have promised the world to us and they have not delivered,” said Schweitzer, who was picketing outside her Chicago store on Thursday.

Frequent promotions like Red Cup Day or buy one, get one free offers put added stress on workers, she said, who have no ability to switch off mobile orders or otherwise control the workflow.

“I mean, you can imagine the Starbucks orders. Decaf grande non-fat, three-and-a-half Splenda mocha with no whip. Multiply that by 100 and you have just drink, drink, drink, drink, drink, drink, drink,” she said. “We just have basically an infinite amount of drinks and we’re understaffed and we’re underpaid and we’re sick of it.”

There are about 10,000 company-owned and operated Starbucks outlets in the U.S. and while about 9,000 employees work at locations that have union representation, the company has not negotiated a labor contract and continues to push back against ongoing labor organization efforts.

“We remain committed to working with all partners, side-by-side, to elevate the everyday, and we hope that Workers United’s priorities will shift to include the shared success of our partners and negotiating contracts for those they represent,” said a statement from the company, which uses the term “partners” to describe its employees. “Starbucks remains ready to progress in-person negotiations with the unions certified to represent partners.”

But the union insists it is the company that is the obstacle to reaching its first contract, per a report from CNN. The union earlier this fall filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board over Starbucks’ refusal to bargain around promotion days.

“Promotion days like Red Cup Day and Buy One Get One Free offers cause a flood of customers to stores, without any additional staffing to cover the influx in orders,” said the union’s statement. “On Red Cup Day, drink orders pile up and are abandoned, lines are out the door, and Starbucks workers are left to handle angry customers who have had to wait as much longer than usual for their beverages and food all while trying to make complicated holiday specialty beverages as fast as possible. When the supply of red cups runs out, customers get disappointed and often take their anger out on workers.”