Starbucks’ scheduling policies draw union fire

Starbucks has not met its pledge to adopt less grueling and more regular work schedules for unit-level employees, according to a newly released study by a union-backed labor advocacy group.

The report, based on a survey of 200 The Starbucks employees, found that one of every four staffers say the chain has reneged on its promise to drop “clopens,” or the assignment of closing a unit at night and reopening it the next morning. Starbucks had vowed to discontinue the practice after it was revealed to the public last year in an article by The New York Times.

The Fair Workweek Initiative also reported that half the respondents are still receiving their work schedules a week or less in advance. Starbucks had pledged to alert staffers of their assigned hours at least 10 days ahead of time so they could better predict the demands on their time and their income.

Similarly, the study concluded that there was still little regularity in weekly schedules, so that an hourly crewmember’s pay could fluctuate widely from one week to the next.

Starbucks did not respond to a request for comment on the allegations.

The hour and pay swings typical of a restaurant job have already prompted San Francisco to require a two-week advance notice by chain restaurants of changes in an employee’s schedule. Bills mandating similar requirements statewide have been introduced in the California legislature.

The study, entitled “The Grind,” also blasted Starbucks for not being more accommodating to requests for increased hours, for making it difficult for employees to take paid sick leave, and for routinely under-staffing.

The reason is the imperative to cut costs, according to The Grind.

“Starbucks’ frontline employees bear the brunt of the management imperative to minimize store labor costs, which takes precedence over attempts to stabilize work hours, provide healthy schedules, and to ensure employees have real input into their working conditions,” it concluded.

The Fair Workweek Initiative describes itself as a collaborative devoted to promoting “family-sustaining work hours for all working Americans.”

Its principal backer is the Center for Popular Democracy, which in turn is supported by the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers and other organized-labor groups.


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