NEW YORK (PIX11) – Thousands of Starbucks workers are leaving their espresso machines Thursday to strike against the coffee giant.

Workers are demanding better wages and working conditions on the day when Starbucks will be offering a free red reusable cup to customers. Federal regulators and employees claim Starbucks has engaged in unfair union-busting activities.

The corporation has launched an aggressive union-busting campaign since the first Starbucks location unionized in December 2021. The National Labor Relations Board has charged Starbucks with more than 20 violations of federal labor law.

A judge in September found that Starbucks violated regulations when it only increased wages and added new employee benefits for non-union employees.

Starbucks has since appealed the ruling, saying, “Coupled with higher wages and the expansion of hours, these investments have not only resulted in lower turnover, more meaningful improvement in our customer connection scores year-over-year but have also nearly doubled hourly total cash compensation since fiscal year 2020.”

In response to the strikes, Starbucks said, “…we hope that Workers United’s priorities will shift to include the shared success of our partners and working to negotiate contracts for those they represent… we again call on Workers United to fulfill their obligations and engage in the work of negotiating first contracts.”