Pudget Sound Business Journal: Starbucks baristas demand meeting with CEO Howard Schultz to discuss scheduling issues

Puget Sound Business Journal, September 29, 2015

By Jeanine Stewart

Starbucks baristas are demanding CEO Howard Schultz to work with workers on a solution to what they say is scheduling unfairness in the wake of a report last week claiming Starbucks has failed to deliver on promises made a year ago to improve practices that leave workers' schedules in a state of chaos.

Beginning at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, baristas at the company's global headquarters in Seattle distributed leaflets to customers and wrote #OurTimeCounts on cups to "generate conversation about the campaign for weeks that work," advocacy group Working Washington said in a release on Tuesday.

In response, a Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) spokeswoman said the company has not received a direct request from workers to meet with Schultz, and that the company has made changes to correct scheduling problems.

"We have have a mutual interest in providing our partners with a positive work experience, and our goal is to give them the hours that they want as consistently as possible and to post their schedules two weeks in advance," the spokesperson said. "The goal is to give them consistent schedules and to post them two weeks in advance."

She added that the company has made many changes its scheduling system since the New York Times story detailing scheduling unfairness came out in August 2014. For instance, its scheduling system no longer allows employees to be automatically scheduled to close a store one evening and then open it again the following morning.

This change took effect this month, along with a change to prevent store managers from overriding the system.

Yet in the Working Washington release on Tuesday, workers claim they have yet to receive schedules more than five days in advance while they are required to submit vacation requests three weeks in advance.

They also report being sent home due to the company's attempts to cut labor during shifts that were scheduled in advance.

Starbucks' spokesperson said the company is still working to solve scheduling issues.

"Getting partner scheduling right is a critical part of the overall work experience we provide, which also includes comprehensive benefits such as affordable healthcare coverage, company stock, and full tuition reimbursement through Arizona State University," a Starbucks spokeswoman said.