Over the course of 2014, Starbucks Coffee was in the news on a regular basis. Whether it was a partner (aka, a Starbucks employee) that was struggling with her wages and hours, or a strangely uneven HBO Starbucks-produced tribute to America’s veterans, there’s been no shortage of media attention thrown the way of the coffee siren.
Most notably Starbucks turned heads by changing its tattoo policy, finally allowing its employees the ability to show off their ink without having to cover them all day, every day. Much rejoicing was heard, it was an exciting time for many employees as most believed the archaic policy would never move. It did.
Further steps were announced by Starbucks corporate. Pay would be changing. In the middle of the hype over the tattoo policy changes, and some calling for higher wages, Starbucks took the lead announcing that pay would increase for a large portion of its US employees. Excitement began to boil again. At a time in US history when stagnant worker wages are at an all time high, and protests are happening from coast to coast, the powers that be at Starbucks headquarters realized [and wisely so] that they had to move first. Move they did.
At the end of January, news began to trickle out about these wages. Many Starbucks partners believed and hoped that wages would be raised
significantly. Some defended the current wages as being enough. Reading through unofficial Starbucks partner Facebook pages, it became evident that for very few, the initial wage would be substantial, but for partners that have been employed for 1-3 years, they would be put at the new wage base level [which is different per state, per region]. Much of the work many partners put in for their wages would be wiped clean, even starting partners would be paid the same as they would, a gross inequality in a growing number of voices as seen through social media.
THE BREAK DOWN (How it used to work)
Typically, Starbucks employees were eligible for raises every six months, something no other company was doing up until that point. This system worked. What wasn't working were starting wages and wage caps. Starbucks as a company, like many other companies, falls far behind in paying their workers a livable wage. Many of its employees, struggle to pay their bills week to week. Many live with family or in roommate situations.
(How it works now)
Now, Starbucks baristas and shift supervisors are eligible for one raise a year, slowing down their rate of pay. The starting wages being reported are a good beginning for the multi-billion dollar company, but in their decision making process, they have failed to account for what will probably amount to tens of thousands of their employees who are now placed at the beginning of the wage system, just to get one raise a year. Tempers are hot.
In the scheme of things, Starbucks gets most things right. They offer their employees health benefits, free drinks, a pound of coffee a week, stock options, and a competitive 401k among other things. Most American businesses should be looking at Starbucks as an example of how you treat the people who are actually responsible for the customer connection which brings in the record earnings every quarter.
The new wage benefits are promising, a step in the right direction. It would be wise for the decision makers on a corporate level to not throw their mid-term or mid-tenure employees under the bus when premiering new wages. There was a lot of hype around the wage increase, but as you would see if you joined certain Starbucks barista social media groups, a bill of goods was sold and hyped that actually ended up slowing the pace of wage earning, and starting off experienced workers as if they were new.
Starbucks now has a worker relations mess on their hands.
This petition is to Starbucks for a fair wage increase for partners tenured one year or more.
You do not have to be a barista to sign this petition. Although, if you are, I recommend that you share this with your fellow baristas, family and friends. You can share this petition by copying and pasting the link below.
A special thanks to Jill Deblasio!