Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: Now I have an excuse to boycott Starbucks

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Now I have an excuse to boycott Starbucks

Per Seattle PI:
A judge has ordered Starbucks Corp. to pay $86.7 million plus interest to thousands of California baristas after the court found the company had illegally forced those workers to share tips with shift supervisors.

"This is sending a message that you may be a big corporation and you may want to do it your way, but you still have to comply with the law and you can't subsidize your labor force," David Lowe, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said Thursday.

It seems that Starbucks has been paying their shift supervisors by snagging cash out of the tip jar instead of leaving that all for their barristas...you know, the people we actually intend to recieve the tips?
At Starbucks, and in many restaurants, customers leave tips in a large container that are shared. But the Starbucks workers alleged that the company's tip pool policy violated California's labor code because "agents" of the company, in this case shift supervisors, were sharing in the tips with baristas.

The California case originated in San Diego, and it covers roughly 120,000 baristas who worked for Starbucks in that state from October 2000 to February 2008.

Of course, proving what a class act they really are, Starbucks posted this letter on their website and gave a statement to the Seattle PI news:
Starbucks said Cowett's ruling was "not only contrary to law, it is fundamentally unfair and beyond all common sense and reason."

"The decision today, in our view, represents an extreme example of an abuse of the class action procedures in California's courts," the company said. "Starbucks therefore plans to appeal and to seek a stay of the court's ruling prohibiting shift supervisors from receiving tips in the future while the appeal is pending."

Lowe, the plaintiffs' attorney, said the law is clear and Starbucks doesn't want to comply.

"They were taking the position they were above the law," Lowe said.

I saw some good responses to Starbucks in comments on the San Diego Union-Tribune website. Folks were asking if their alleged "fair sharing policy" meant that the supervisory employees would be sharing their bonuses with the baristas since they would be based off the sales on their shift?

I've seen some angry responses from present and former Starbucks shift-supervisors on the newspaper comments and a beautifully snarky website called "Starbucks Gossip - Monitoring America's favorite drug dealer." The reality is that those employees are not looking at the bigger picture AND their angry and the wrong folks. They should be angry at Starbucks.

I worked retail for years during high school and college. The duties of these "shift supervisors" include opening and closing, training and handling money deposits. These folks are assistant managers in everything but their job title. This is a sneaky way of keeping them out of the "management" designation to avoid paying managerial wages and benefits. Starbucks is basically counting the tip jar as part of the earnings of these employees rather than paying them what they earn.

They also have no intention of stopping the practice.

Of course, this isn't their only legal trouble:
The decision was the second legal action this month that was unfavorable to Starbucks, which is attempting a turnaround as its stock has tumbled 44 percent in the past 12 months. Earlier in March, the company agreed to pay an undisclosed amount to about 350 assistant managers who claimed in a federal case in Houston that they were forced to work off the clock. Starbucks also faces at least two other major workplace lawsuits -- one in California and one in Florida.

Dang, if you call them "Assistant Managers," now you can't even work them to death! How much do you want to bet the number of "Shift Supervisors" soared after that suit was brought?

I already avoid Starbucks. I don't like their coffee and it's too expensive. Plus they are just like Walmart by trying to drive local roasters and coffee shops out of business...and in Alaska, we have some great roasters and coffee shops.

Recent events give me even more justification to boycott anything from Starbucks. They portray themselves as something special but in the end, they are just another greedy corporation.


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