"I Hope That Howard Schultz Hears My Story": A Starbucks Barista on Why He's Fighting for Fair Scheduling


Many modern businesses use software that allows self-scheduling.

Some even work from the cloud, and can be used from smartphones.

Can't Starbucks IS come up with something?
It's HIS choice to fill in for someone. He doesn't have to. He's crying about the choices he makes. If he works his shift, then someone else s by Choice. Then that's on him.
I worked at the Starbucks in downtown Portland years ago, and our opening shift started at 4:15 AM. While the vast majority of us hated coming in at that hour, one particular coworker wanted that shift every day, because it was perfect for her schedule and for her very young children. But the store manager was instructed from above not to give her that shift every day, because it would lead to her expecting that shift every day. In other words, the store inconvenienced every employee in order not to accommodate one. That is some messed up management right there.
It's technically company policy that the manager or assistant store manager find coverage for the partner calling out sick, but I've never, in my nine years with the company, had someone find coverage for me when I am so ill that I have to call out. It gets even harder when you become a shift supervisor to get coverage; the pool is smaller, and shifts are often scheduled very close to 40 hours, so people can't cover for you unless they get approved for overtime by the district manager.
Another Seattle gem!
Honestly, what's happening to management these days? How hard is it to put out a two week schedule for a fast food restaurant, especially if you have senior employees that you can slide into regular shifts?

As far as covering for sick employees, why is that the employees responsibility? Back when I was a supervisor in hotels, it's was my job to find coverage for shifts, or do it myself - and I worked in Catering, where it wasn't unusual to add a few events at the last minute. I suppose the difference was that we paid a handsome wage ($20/hour plus built-in tip - and that was in the early 90's) but there were a lot of early morning calls where I had to scramble to find a relief person.

This isn't rocket science, it's sound business practice - but companies aren't interested in maintaining quality people or even running good businesses these days - and the employment pool is apparently content to let them be walked over.
His quote: "I’m a Second-Generation Starbucks Barista. And I Want a Fair Workweek."

Yo' Darrion: Ask yourself why you are a second generation fast-food worker.

Did you every think, Jeez, I better think about doing something else, that gives me stable hours and a long-term career? No? Becuz' 'cuz, if anything then Starbucks has probably saved your ass from starvation. They don't owe you anything other than on opportunity.

Don't like it? Improve yourself. Dare to make yourself so fucking irresistible to some other company that they can't HELP but to give your cash and hours.

Maybe your Garfield education didn't help you understand supply and demand, but bitching about the boss is a great way lower demand for your labor.

You don't think the next potential boss won't Google your name and pass you over as a malcontent? Not a smart career move kid.

Stop boo-hooing and get to work.
I'm a supervisor at Starbucks, and I can tell you that everything here is true. I am still being scheduled clopen shifts because my manager doesn't want to work Sunday nights.

My managers have been terrified of being over in labor hours since the day I started, and god forbid you go in to overtime. Either a store is overstaffed and you're scrounging for hours to feed yourself and pay bills or you're so understaffed that if anyone is sick your day (probably days) is going to be hell.

I am actually in the lobby of my store now watching another barista doubled over in pain in the drive through window because he called seven other stores and there were no baristas available to take his shift. We are being given a skeleton crew that is already less than we need, and we are in an industry where we are exposed to hundreds of people a day -- of course we are going to get sick.

What Starbucks needs is a pool of on-call floating baristas and supervisors that are easily contacted when a store has a partner call in.
It's understandable. A low profit margin company like Starbucks can't afford niceties. Who do you think they are? Boeing?
Oh Zok. Poor Zok. Always so bitter.

It probably didn't occur to you - despite your being 'educated' and all - that not all people have the opportunity to "better" themselves, no matter what plucky little shows you have been watiching. And that's a good thing for people like you, who have such a tenuous grasp on reality. If you had to compete with any more people than you undoubtedly do in whatever dreary little industry you toil in, it would probably drive you right over the edge, and then you'd be just another mouth to feed.

While it's true that a company doesn't "owe" the employee anything beyond a paycheck (nice cliche, by the way! I suppose the next thing you'll tell us is that freedom isn't free?), it behooves the quality company - fast food or otherwise - to cultivate quality employees who will stay with the company in the long term because it costs less to make a few accomodations than it does to constantly be training new people (unless the training department has hoodwinked people into believing otherwise, which is a thing - especially these days, when an MBA is basically a certification in credulousness)

But by all means if you want to be cast as the Grumpy Cat of Slog, keep being as wonderful as you are - and beware of you competition: There's quite a few cranks on Slog these days. You might have to step up your game.
@12 Oh so snarky! Because of the Seattle sick and safe time law, he technically didn't need to come in today - he could have just called out and left it at that. He is still there because he needs the money and because he didn't want to fuck over the rest of the floor. He probably has an ulcer - not something he needs to be rushed to the emergency room for, but something he can't have checked out by a doctor when he's scheduled to work six days straight.

Kudos to you for pointing fingers at me though! That's definitely going to solve the problem. Just so you know though, I would have covered his shift, but I'm already scheduled forty hours, six days straight, and went into OT last week covering a shift that was abandoned.

It's lovely that you used to be a barista. I would think then, that you would understand the hell we get put through and advocate for better treatment of thousands of people rather than nitpick over how closely one person's experience matches your own.
This is one of the many reasons I try my best to avoid $BUX. Workers need >$15 and a union
It's more important to pay the "job creators" millions and billions than to treat the lowly workers well, with living wages and good working conditions. Their yachts, mega-mansions, multiple homes, and philanthropic causes are more important than the lives of their workers. If the powerful could get away with slavery, they would happily do it. Oh,.... slavery still exists in many parts of the world. So Starbucks workers should be glad they have their jobs. Just kidding.

Everyone has the opportunity to improve themselves. The guy is 19 years old and his target is more hours at Starbucks. You're not doing him a favor by doing anything other than saying "Shift your target, bruh."

Pay for value isn't a cliche. It's called economics.

The cliche is your own: That "it behooves the... company to cultivate quality employees who will stay with the company in the long term because it costs less to make a few accommodations than it does to constantly be training new people..." WRONG.

That mattered once upon a time with SKILLED labor. Young men and women who actually MADE high-value products with considerable skill. Something a little more rigorous and globally competitive than making sure you don't use the Venti ice scooper on a Grande iced. I'm not dismissing the people who have chosen to barista, in balance with the interests and the rewards. But its not a great secret that those economic rewards are few – because the market dictates that the value is low, and the providers fungible.

Starbucks went to automation when too much "trained' labor couldn't consistently make a cuppa'joe. Now (and increasingly) it's a push-button affair. (And with high mandatory minimum wages oncoming, soon every single reason to believe they'll go to full automation.) The exchange cost of training new workers is collapsing. (Training managers replaced by eLearning quizzes. Classes the company offered replaced by 3-4 videos to watch at home.)

What you see as gloomy negativism is just the practical reality of economics dismantling your silly, fact-free worldview.
Technically it should be a shift supervisor/manager responsibility to find shift coverage if someone calls out. However, only one of the four sbux that I worked at (in Massachusetts, Washington and Oregon) followed through with this policy. Actually, is it even policy? It may not even be written down somewhere. I had one shift supervisor that always made me feel ok about advocating for myself and taking the time I needed and my manager was also pretty supportive. It does get crazy though when people call out and a shift can't be filled because sbux seriously runs things on a skeleton staff. Even the last stores I worked at, the Olive Way flagship and then Brewery Blocks in Portland cut way, way, way back on labor after 2013. Add in the additional requirement that anyone from another store covering a shift at my store needed to have a OLCC license because we served beer and wine? Disaster. One thing can be said though - employees generally don't feel that much guilt to the company if they call out (unless they drank all the kool-aid) but they do feel guilt towards their coworkers. Every store I worked at had a close-knit team where we genuinely cared for each other and generally didn't want to screw up anyone's day. People can bitch all they want about how people who work at sbux shouldn't complain or that they should aspire to more, but I haven't found the same degree of kindness or camaraderie in any other workplace. There's other reasons to value your work and relationships with coworkers besides the $$$ on your paycheck (although more of those would be nice).
Dodgy people like to use market economy hash to bash workers, but avoid talking about how corporate welfare schemes like tax dodging are part of their free market economy. The contortion acts and the amount of money corporations pay to avoid such reconciliation is astounding.

The answer to the constant maligning of workers simply because they are paid and treated poorly is obvious. Raise their wages and treat them well. Duh! It has an added bonus of real "social justice" action vs. paying for ridiculous, contrived PR gimmick to raise SJ awareness among the paying customers. But paying and treating workers well will mean less green and perhaps a little more red in the short term. Long term, you get a stable, healthier, harder working staff and positive publicity (note -REI and its Friday off PR home run). As this is Starbucks, what workers and customers get is red cups instead.
@Zok, You make a valid point that workers should spend more time bettering themselves and taking control of their professional futures as opposed to complaining about their bosses and company's policies, but you still lack perspective and, dare I say, empathy for fellow members of your community. Everyone is struggling to get by with whatever situation they've landed or been allotted. Some of us are still trying to better ourselves in, as you said, a competitive market, while others are enjoying the benefits of already having won out. But a winner takes all economy is not sustainable, unless we're striving as a nation for a post-modern French Revolution. I'm guessing that whatever profession enables you to stare down your nose at 'lowly baristas' also enables you to order a customized coffee on a consistent basis. Companies like Starbucks are to blame for the mass misconception that making coffee is not skilled work and better suited for peasants with no ambition. Spend one day in a city like Melbourne or San Francisco and you'll see just how serious they take the culture of coffee, and how not anyone can do it correctly. Mind you, I'm not saying baristas should earn a lawyer's salary, but that doesn't mean they don't deserve fair treatment and quality of life between shifts.
"Tax Dodging"

Is the child-care credit a 'tax dodge'?
Moving expenses for a first job a "tax dodge"?
Student-loan interest paid by parents? A tax dodge?
Out-of-pocket charitable contributions? Dodging taxes?

Oh I see: When YOU use the facilities of the tax code, it's just you exercising your rights.

But when someone more successful than you exercises the tax code, it's a "tax dodge."


You've had a Democratic President who has never addressed the tax code, exercising wide exec powers on all manner of things, for coming-up on a decade. He had BOTH houses of Congress locked-up with Dem votes for his first two years.

Hmmmmmm.... I wonder it the Dems aren't just feeding you a line of shit that even they don't believe. You muppets.

Yes, REI had "a PR home run." The question is whether it will be an economic home run. Because at the end of the day, less REI revenue has to equal something: higher prices, less working capital, fewer perks, or lower member dividends. And that's fine. But economic decisions have to express themselves somewhere. And it may result in an untold windfall of loyalty, advocacy and buy-in, spurring sale to even higher levels. Awesome. But, you see, the thing to remember is that REI's leader will be held accountable for the results of their choices and actions.

As will someone who thinks Starbucks owes them...
@22 Well the EU seems to think so and are going after Starbucks for it. Regarding EITC and child tax credit, many studies support them for the social and economic benefit these tax breaks have on our society as a whole, and they have bipartisan support.

OTOH, one can argue against certain corporate subsidies and tax loopholes for certain industry (i.e. oil and gas) and corporations which don't give the public good ROI.



This is really more of a practical issue as I see it. Even if you just want to define a company's success in only dollars term, it's still a net benefit not to abuse your employees so they are more productive or to have service staff work when they aren't sick WHILE serving food and drinks to customers (talk about hygiene and communicable diseases and the economic cost of that in illness and sick time/lost productivity/health care). Have friendly, knowledgable wait staff who will make you want to come back instead of exhausted, surly, or confused ones handing out bad experiences which make you run away to make negative Yelp reviews. This isn't a feel good business plan. Turnovers are expensive and so is training.

Sure one day, you may get your ultimate service bot who will make you the perfect coffee, fix your aches and pains, always listen in agreement, never offering a disagreement. Service delivered with perfect sterility. But until that nirvana arrives, we have the human factor. I like mine to be around people who do give a damn about one another. I enjoy listening to differing opinions, with all their dodginess and attitude.

Hopefully, makes me ever more artful with my own dodging.

Obviously each store is different depending on their specific management. I worked at a great Starbucks on Dexter (in Seattle) and scheduling was never a problem. The manager was smart with hiring and scheduling. We got the hours we were promised and if someone called out, the manager would often times fill in himself if he couldn't find a replacement. I also often times filled in at other stores when people called out sick. I'm sorry for your experience but I do not think it's fair to blame all of Starbucks for your unique experience. It sounds like your management was poor but that's not the fault of Starbucks as a whole.
Also, I was paid just fine for what I was doing and Seattle will soon enough be paying all employees $15/hr minimum. But even when I was there I started at more than minimum wage (not including tips) for a low-level job. And got health benefits while working part-time. And help with tuition while only working part-time.
This is really a store-specific thing. I saw nothing to imply that Starbucks, as a company, encouraged policies like the ones you are protesting in your article.
I worked at Starbucks for 2 years. There is no way you can comfortably live in Seattle working at Starbucks, when you're set 20 hour work week is like a block of marble, that gets chiseled away into a sad person wearing a stupid apron and a pair of khaki's, so they can save money. Tons of pressure to reduce staffing in a company that is making a profit. It's why I left.
It's really hard for me to believe anyone working anywhere for two years where they only got 20 hours a week and leaving because of that. You wouldn't survive. I worked there part-time as my third job (during that time) and appreciated the flexibility they had with my schedule. Obviously it depends on the store you work at and the management you work for. I am so grateful for having Starbucks in my life at that time.