Has Starbucks Broken a Promise to Its Employees?

Some baristas say they still are getting shortchanged by unpredictable workweeks. At least one organization agrees.

Baristas are among the 10 job titles that received the biggest pay hikes this year, but CBS MoneyWatch reports that some Starbucks baristas may be getting shortchanged in another way.

Last year, Starbucks promised to start posting employees’ work schedules at least 10 days in advance after a New York Times article titled “Working Anything but 9 to 5” detailed the burdens employees faced because they were receiving only a few days’ notice about their schedules.

But by some accounts, Starbucks’ promise has yet to become a reality.

One student tells CBS that “wild inconsistency” plagues his Starbucks work schedules and that lack of advance notice forced him to pay a co-worker to cover one shift so he could take an exam.

A report released this month by the nonprofit Center for Popular Democracy — “The Grind: Striving for Scheduling Fairness at Starbucks” — questions six facets of Starbucks’ scheduling practices:

  • Unpredictable workweeks.
  • Inconsistency in days, times and amounts of work.
  • Insufficient rest due to working “clopen” shifts (when employees are scheduled to close one night and to open the store early the next morning).
  • Obstacles to taking sick leave.
  • Understaffing and insufficient hours.
  • Failure to honor employees’ availability.

Carrie Gleason, director of the Fair Workweek Initiative at the Center for Popular Democracy and a co-author of the organization’s report, tells CBS that even though Starbucks “has the values and wants to do right by their employees,” many troubling issues persist.

CBS reports that Starbucks did not respond to its requests for comment. In an internal memo later published by Time, Starbucks executive Cliff Burrows wrote that the company couldn’t validate the survey, but noted that:

“The findings suggest, contrary to the expectations we have in place, that some partners are receiving their schedules less than one week in advance and that there is a continuing issue with some partners working a close and then an opening shift the following morning.”

Burrows also asked store managers “to go the extra mile to ensure partners have a consistent schedule.”

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Stacy Johnson

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