Starbucks Workers File Labor Complaints, Union Goes on Strike
Starbucks workers in New York City have filed 32 more complaints alleging that the coffee giant violated the city’s labor laws. New York’s Fair Workweek law says that employers have to give their workers regular schedules from week to week, 14 days notice of their scheduled hours and extra pay for shift changes, among other requirements. Starbucks baristas have repeatedly accused the company of running afoul of the law: They have filed nearly 90 complaints with the city related to the law since February. The allegations come as Starbucks baristas at more than 200 locations nationwide strike Thursday, on the company’s busy Red Cup promotion day. Starbucks Workers United said the strike is protesting understaffing at the company’s locations, particularly on promotion days. Workers are also demanding that Starbucks turn off mobile ordering on future promotion days.
Total Retail's Take: The ongoing battle between Starbucks corporate and its store employees continues, and seems to be intensifying. The coffee giant isn't alone in trying to stave off widespread unionization among its store employees. REI, Apple, Trader Joe's, The Home Depot, Barnes & Noble Education, among other retailers, have seen a rise in store employees seeking to unionize. In addition to increased wages, many of these workers are seeking improvements to employee scheduling, training, and benefits.
In the case of Starbucks, there's another unique demand specific to the business: store employees are pushing back against the immensely popular mobile ordering option, particularly on days of special promotions. They argue that mobile orders can overwhelm baristas quickly, especially on days when the company offers discounts or freebies. Yet mobile order and delivery accounted for a third of the company’s sales in its latest quarter, so it's hard to imagine it's going to willingly turn off the feature. Some sort of compromise on the issue of mobile ordering would seem to be the more likely outcome. Lastly, on the issue of scheduling, all retailers and brands should check out this recent article Total Retail published on predictive scheduling, including what they need to know to stay in compliance with state and local laws.