Starbucks Accused of Slashing Employee Work Hours: ‘We’re Suffering, and So Are Customers’

A Starbucks logo on a store in Los Angeles, California, March 10, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
A Starbucks logo on a store in Los Angeles, California, March 10, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

An online petition accusing Starbucks Corp of “extreme” cutbacks in work hours at its U.S. cafes, hurting both employee morale and customer service, has been signed by more than 9,000 people.

The world’s biggest coffee chain, trying to address cooling growth at its U.S. shops, recently introduced technology that allows customers to order and pay from mobile devices. That service aims to boost sales and reduce bottlenecks in stores.

Starbucks Chief Executive Howard Schultz and other top brass have spoken with Jaime Prater, a Southern California barista and the online petition’s creator, the Seattle-based company said.

It declined to give details but Starbucks spokeswoman Jaime Riley said it is not uncommon for Schultz to reach out to members of its 160,000-strong U.S. workforce. She also said no nationwide cutback in labor hours or jobs was underway at Starbucks stores.

Starbucks has a software system that determines labor needs based on business trends. Store managers can work with leadership in their respective regions to determine labor needs based on any factors not taken into account by the system, Riley said.


Prater told Reuters he is cautiously optimistic after executives said they are looking into the issues raised in the petition.

“There is a small window right now” to act, he said.

Comments on the petition painted a picture of broad discontent at the company known for offering better wages and benefits than other chains, including healthcare coverage, retirement account contributions and paid vacation days.

Prater and many signers say they noticed cutbacks in U.S. staffing hours after Starbucks in April reported a deceleration in quarterly cafe sales growth. Several of them said store managers were under pressure to comply with the dictates of Starbucks’ software system.

Almost 7,000 signers of the petition described themselves as employees, according to Prater. They did not give their full names and Reuters was not immediately able to confirm that the signers worked for Starbucks.

“The labor situation has gone from tight to infuriating,” Prater said.

One central California store has seen its labor allotment shrunk by about 10 percent, even though sales are up, its manager, who asked not to be identified for fear or reprisal, told Reuters.

Similar complaints were heard from many signers of the online petition.

“No matter what we do to save on labor at my store, the system tells us EVERY SINGLE DAY that we are at least 8 hours over in labor for the day and have to cut even more,” wrote signer Aaron I.

“We’re suffering, & so are our customers. It’s not working,” wrote Leslie S, a self-described shift manager.


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SOURCE: RawStory / Fletcher