February 23, 2024

On January 7th, 2024, a member of the CWPUSA interviewed a Starbucks worker and Workers’ United union member. They shared their perspective on conditions in the store that led to the strike in November 2023.

Q: What issues or events led to your participation in the strike?

A: There are so many issues – inconsistent scheduling, withholding of benefits, no credit card tips, severe understaffing, and constant disrespectful comments from higher-ups.

Q: Can you provide examples of situations or policies that you believe need improvement at Starbucks?

A: The main issue is with scheduling. We have no guaranteed minimum hours, and there are days when the entire store is run by just two people or even just one at rare times. This leads to overwhelming workloads and even mental breakdowns during shifts, impacting both the work environment and employee morale. It’s especially worse considering some of the partners are neurodivergent and have special sensitivity to this kind of pressure. Many more things need fixing, don’t get me wrong, but at least in my store that’s one of the bigger issues.

Q: How do these policies impact the overall work environment and employee morale?

A: Everyone is exhausted, lacking energy, and motivation to work. Everyone would quit if not for bills, school, and reliance on Starbucks for things like healthcare. We’re all tired, have no energy, and have no motivation to work. At about 5 months on the job, the exhaustion sets in, affecting the quality of service and leading to more hour cuts.

Q: What role has the union played in the working conditions of your Starbucks?

A: The union has provided hope for improvement. Truth be told, despite all our efforts and the unions, until Starbucks budges, nothing will change, I’m afraid. That’s why we have to keep fighting and show them we workers won’t stand for this anymore.

Q: Do you feel like the union has made a meaningful difference in your employment?

A: Not yet. It boosted morale and awareness, but Starbucks has retaliated against us, refusing to bargain or agree to a contract. There have been unfair reprisals from withholding benefits, firings, and no promotions for unionized stores whereas non-unionized stores get these benefits.

Q: What improvements would you like to see from the union?

A: As much as they can provide. While it has given us strength, not much has been achieved due to Starbucks’ resistance. Currently, I have no major complaints about Workers’ United.

Q: What changed after the strike?

A: Retaliation occurred, such as skipping over a barista on a promised promotion. The District Manager and manager cracked down more in the store.

Q: What more needs to be done to improve the conditions at your Starbucks?

A: We need improvements in scheduling, hour cuts, and better staffing. We want accountability for higher-ups, better healthcare, credit card tips, for partners to feel safe at the job, and fair raises for long-time partners. Ultimately, we want to be treated as people, not just numbers in a system, considering the company’s multi-billion dollar earnings and the fact that we, the partners, are the ones who make all their profit.