Starbucks barista Darrion Sjoquist wants the company to offer employees more advance notice of their schedules.
Starbucks barista Darrion Sjoquist wants the company to offer employees more advance notice of their schedules. Working Washington

A day after local business leaders questioned whether unpredictable scheduling is really a problem for Seattle workers, the CEO of the largest coffee chain in the world acknowledged that it is, in fact, an issue businesses must address.

Starbucks barista Darrion Sjoquist confronted CEO Howard Schultz at the Seattle-based company's shareholder meeting yesterday, asking Schultz whether the company is considering improving scheduling for workers.

"Not only is it something we're considering," Schultz replied, "but I think it's at the top of our list to create some balance between the pressure that exists on some people who are having a difficult time with the schedule and our ability to schedule thousands of people."

Starbucks is one of the most prominent companies under fire for unpredictable schedules, which make it difficult for hourly workers to go to school, find childcare, or work a second job. After promising to improve scheduling, a report last year found Starbucks was falling short. Seattle baristas organized by Working Washington are calling on the city to pass new laws requiring large companies to give workers more advance notice of their schedules.

"The primary issue is making sure that we provide you with a schedule in advance so that you don't have a short-term response and you can't make work," Schultz told Sjoquist yesterday. "We understand the issues. We think they are critical."

Here's the full exchange: