Starbucks employees nationwide are reporting reduced hours and a systematic speed-up of work, resulting in insecurity and exhaustion for workers, and declining service for customers. Meanwhile, sales and profits at the company are up.
Venessa Wong at Buzzfeed reports that an algorithmic system called Global Labor Scheduling (GLS) has been tightening hours assigned to stores:
Starbucks staff told BuzzFeed News that store managers use the company’s GLS software to determine how many worker hours they can allocate. The managers input how many transactions they think their location will ring up for a given week, and the system generates an allocation of total labor hours, using an algorithm that also takes into account historical sales.
The store manager then assigns those hours to individual workers. But in recent months, staff say that managers noticed their estimates were returning fewer hours. Just by way of illustration, if an estimated 800 transactions usually earned a store 70 hours of labor, the store might now receive only 65 hours for the same estimate.
The human consequences are devastating. Starbucks employees have launched an online petition to raise the issue in public:
Baristas feel the force of the labor cuts and the gross underemployment because of the new standard. … Morale is at the lowest I’ve seen it in my nearly 9 years of service with Starbucks. Customers feel this the most, of anyone.
If this is going to change, the corporate side of the company is going to have to understand that under employing people, while understaffing their stores is a recipe for disaster. We want Starbucks to ease up, give us room to breathe, to have the proper kind of staff to ultimately, give our amazing and wonderful customers the service they deserve. Right now, that’s not happening. Customer Service is declining, the third place experience is disappearing.
At this writing, the petition has 15,829 signatures. Add yours.
Adequate staffing is an issue across industries. Employees at REI have been waging a public campaign for secure hours. Janitors in Seattle are negotiating through their union for an end to short-staffing and speed-ups. In the private prison industry, short-staffing puts both staff and prisoners in danger!
City Councilmember Lisa Herbold recently released a report about secure scheduling in Seattle. Among the findings:
- Unpredictable work schedules create serious financial and family hardship for some Seattle workers, with workers of color disproportionately experiencing shorter on-call notice and more frequent changes to their work schedules.
- 70 percent of workers have on-call responsibilities, with the majority of employees receiving less than 6 hours’ notice before they start work.
- Nearly a quarter of African-American and Latino employees reported that workplace scheduling has impacted their parenting or childcare responsibilities.
Ultimately, this is a struggle about whether profits or human values will rule. More to come on this…
- Here’s Why Lines Have Grown So Long At Starbucks, According To Baristas
by Venessa Wong at BuzzFeed – July 27, 2016
- Blood, Sweat, and Tears
by Rianna Hidalgo at Real Change – July 19, 2016
- My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard: A Mother Jones Investigation
by Shane Bauer at Mother Jones – July/August issue, 2016
- Scheduling in Seattle: Current State of Practice and Prospects for Intervention
by Vigdor Measurement & Evaluation, LLC – July 15, 2016