Starbucks is under fire for failing to improve working conditions for baristas, following complaints about long, gruelling shifts and erratic schedules that are planned less than one week in advance.
Now, one barista has come forward to share what it’s like working for for the coffee giant.
“I have seen many co-workers quit on short notice because they couldn’t earn enough to make ends meet or their work schedule was too erratic to plan important things like child care,” Caitlin O’Reilly-Green, who has worked as a barista for the last 18 months, writes in Time.
“Though I faced some of the same issues, the hardest part of the job for me was without a doubt the so-called ‘skeleton-shifts’ — severely understaffed shifts that left me stressed, exhausted, and, as a result, sick.”
She claims that earlier this year she was forced to run the entire store for four straight days when a co-worker called in sick.
“The work was so gruelling that I eventually developed a muscle spasm in my back and was forced to stop working for three months in order to recover from my injury,” she writes.
She discussed “clopen” shifts, where workers have to close the store late at night only to return early the following morning to open it back up.
“My co-workers silently work ‘clopen’ shifts, where they shut down the store at night and come back the next morning to open it,” she writes. “They silently deal with inconsistent work schedules. They silently cope with not knowing how much work they’re going to get each week, making it impossible for them to budget — and budgeting is already hard on $US8.25 an hour.”
Fortunately for O’Reilly-Green, Starbucks offered her some help after her back was injured. The company allowed her to transfer to a store closer to home and now lets her to indicate her preferred availability for work, so she can better plan her schedule.
“I’m so happy that Starbucks heard me, but I’m just one person,” she writes. “Unfortunately many Starbucks workers don’t speak up and voice their struggles.
Starbucks has vowed to improve working conditions, but things have been slow to change, the New York Times reported on Wednesday.
Store managers are partly to blame. They are given tight labour budgets and incentivized to understaff stores, which makes it difficult to staff workers on regular schedules, according to the Times report.
“The mood lately has not been super positive; they have been cutting labour pretty drastically,” Matthew Haskins, a shift supervisor at a Starbucks in Seattle, told the Times. “There are many days when we find ourselves incredibly — not even a skeletal staff, just short-staffed.”
Starbucks sent out an internal memo on Thursday addressing the claims in the Times report.
The memo urges managers to “go the extra mile” to give employees a more consistent schedule, Time reports.
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