Frustrated Employees Say Starbucks Still Needs to Improve Horrible Work Schedules

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"I'm working <i>what hours</i> tomorrow?!?"
"I'm working what hours tomorrow?!?" Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images

In August 2014, Starbucks promised to start making baristas’ schedules more manageable. If complaints from baristas 15 months later are any indication, however, corporate still has its work cut out.

While fast-food workers rallied in 270 cities on Tuesday for better pay, a group of Starbucks workers apparently spent the day demonstrating in front of Seattle’s Pike Place location to protest what they say are ongoing scheduling snafus. A report recently backed up these claims: The advocacy group Center for Popular Democracy asked 200 employees about their workweeks, and many said they still get schedules with almost no advance notice and still do “clopenings,” the infamous shift where a barista closes the store at night and returns hours later to open it the following morning.

Work life has improved for some baristas, but others claim corporate isn’t doing nearly enough to fix the mind-set “that being sick is your fault.” In an essay posted this week on Medium, Darrion Sjoquist, a barista whose mom also worked at Starbucks, wrote that his store still expects workers to find someone to cover their shift, no matter the situation:

You are expected to show up for work if your son has been missing for 24 hours or your grandfather has died. If you are so sick that it hurts to speak, you are expected to call and text and beg every available person and ask them to sacrifice their day off, their precious hours before work or after school to help you solve a problem neither of you had any control over.

As an example, he recounts a recent 4 a.m. phone call he got from a co-worker:

As soon as she said my name, I knew why she was calling. She was sick. She asked if I could cover her 4:30 a.m. to 10:30 am shift that morning. She’d tried every number she could and was having difficulty speaking, let alone standing and working for six hours. She said she didn’t know who else to call or what else she could do. She asked if I could cover even part of her shift.

I said yes. I worked her six-hour shift that morning and returned an hour later to work my own eight-hour shift that afternoon. I worked her shift because if I hadn’t, no one would have, or even worse, she would have tried.

He and a group of baristas sent a letter to CEO Howard Schultz in hopes that “he hears my story,” but they haven’t gotten a reply yet. The company hasn’t said much of anything lately about this mess, but at the time of that Center for Popular Democracy report, a rep noted there was still “work to do.”

[Stranger, Medium]

Starbucks Still Has Bad Scheduling Policies