Starbucks Workers Confront Executives To Demand Scheduling Reform
As Seattle City Council mulls legislative change, workers call for long promised improvements
SEATTLE –Starbucks workers staged a protest at the company’s annual shareholder meeting today to call for better scheduling practices, a day after the Seattle City Council held a study session on proposals that would require employers like Starbucks to raise standards for work hours. Starbucks baristas at the protest were members of Working Washington, a statewide workers’ organization that has led the fight for secure scheduling at the company and in the City Council. As part of the demonstration, baristas called attention to a national petition signed by more than 20,000 supporters calling on Starbucks to end clopenings and provide 11 hours of rest between shifts.
Scheduling problems at Starbucks were unveiled in a 2014 New York Times feature, which found employees were often given notice about their shift just hours in advance and often forced to both close a store and open just hours later – a practice known as “clopening.” Though the company vowed to introduce reforms in response, a report from the Center for Popular Democracy’s Fair Workweek Initiative a year later found many workers were still struggling with erratic hours. Starbucks workers in Seattle have continued protests across the country from Seattle to Atlanta to Connecticut and have delivered a letter to the company calling for a meeting.
With no meaningful changes in sight, workers have taken their case to the Seattle City Council, which is currently considering legislation that may include provisions to ensure flexibility and advance notice, adequate rest between shifts, on-call pay and access to hours for part-time workers. Recent polling found overwhelming support for such policies. Similar protections are already on the books in San Francisco and Santa Clara County, and are being considered by a growing number of cities and states around the country, including Washington, DC, San Jose, Maryland, Massachusetts and Minnesota.
Darrion Sjoquist, a barista at Starbucks, released the following statement:
“Even after asking for changes again and again, workers at Starbucks still face constant uncertainty about something as simple as when they need to come in to work. Unpredictable schedules are harmful to workers, and make it incredibly hard for people like me to plan our lives. We can’t wait any longer for real change to come.”
Leila Kopcic, a barista at Starbucks, also released a statement:
“It’s really hard to live your life when your priorities are, ‘what’s my schedule? How many hours am I getting?’ Basically you get off at 7:30, go home, get ready for bed, wake up at 4 AM and go to work. It’s not enough time to rest and recharge yourself. I have to skimp on groceries. Sometimes skip meals. Just to be able to live where I want to live and afford that. A lot of people have it worse than me and I just want to make a difference for everyone.”
Carrie Gleason, Director of the Fair Workweek Initiative, also released a statement:
“Starbucks baristas have put the national spotlight on the crisis hourly workers face in their workweeks. Starbucks would not let its customers wait endlessly for a latte, and it should not let its employees wait a day longer to meet with them to find a long-term solution for better hours.”
Sejal Parikh, Executive Director of Working Washington, also released a statement: “This is a venti-sized problem that deserves immediate attention from corporate executives. For more than a year, Starbucks workers have been demanding schedules that let them actually plan their lives. We will continue to push for change in local laws and corporate policy until every Starbucks barista has a schedule that respects that their time counts.”
The Center for Popular Democracy promotes equity, opportunity, and a dynamic democracy in partnership with innovative base-building organizations, organizing networks and alliances, and progressive unions across the country. CPD builds the strength and capacity of democratic organizations to envision and advance a pro-worker, pro-immigrant, racial justice agenda www.fairworkweek.org The Fair Workweek Initiative, anchored by the Center for Popular Democracy and CPD Action, is driving the growing momentum to restore a workweek that enables working families to thrive.
Working Washington is a statewide workers’ organization that fights to raise wages, improve labor standards, and change the conversation about wealth, inequality, and the value of work.