A slow culmination of ridiculous, beautiful, and ugly. Ugly? Yes ugly.
I keep seeing all this anit-starbucks stuff, which, okay I get it. Then I see slogans like ‘support your local coffee shop’ that usually accompany those signs, which again, I get.
This stuff irks me a bit.
I worked in coffee shops or coffee shop adjacent shops (just baristaing ya know) for quite a few years, and while I was fortunate to work in one amazing place where my boss was really nice and somewhat aligned with ‘good business practices’ (he gave us structured raises, reviews; but guilted workers into working extra shifts and hours) the rest I worked at were pretty, pretty awful.
I will not go into all the amazing amounts of crap that I had to deal with, but the fact that when I had to deal with it was I had zero support because the mandate of the independents I worked for was ‘we are all a team’, which pretty much meant, ‘just take one for the team’. This mentality can be all fine and good when everyone on the team takes their equal share or when the team is compensated accordingly and fairly.
This does not happen.
The amount of times I have asked for raises based on structured work compensation guidelines or in correlation to an increased amount of work with no compensation and received nothing but ‘we will talk about this later’ or ‘the business can’t afford that right now because we are a small company, please just sit on it’ and been strained on that line for years, is ridiculous. The thing is, the owners/managers/investors don’t take one for the team. They don’t sacrifice their hours and weekends because someone called in sick, they don’t sit on a barely above minimum wage so the company can get by, they aren’t fear-mongered into not discussing their wages to discourage the large discrepancies from being revealed. They profit off of their workers.
As much as I enjoyed working for some of these places (at times and only because of co-workers), there comes a point when the pay off and coolness factor of working for a hip independent doesn’t align with team values, respect, and, you know, paying for stuff. Not to mention usually people at these jobs have other responsibilities mainly school. It is another factor entirely to try and concentrate on school and constantly having your phone ringing because shifts need to be covered. It offers no peace of mind and employers don’t understand that work is not the number one priority.
The thing about starbucks is they have structured pay scales for their employees, health benefits (benefits!) and structured breaks as well. They have checks and balances because they have to. If someone complains about harassment or discrimination they have protocol.
You don’t get exploited in the way that you work 10 hours with no breaks, while being dsicriminated, working for minimum wage in a company full of heartless douchebags. When I worked for a college, their strictness with complying with break schedules was so shocking to me because most of my working life had really gone without this. The idea that I HAD to take three breaks and HAD to take an hour for lunch was incredible. And also the fact that if I left any later than my scheduled time, I had to record it to be compensated correctly.
I know that all independents aren’t terrible, and all that, but they idea that independents are better because they don’t support a corporate agenda isn’t entirely true because they don’t support the workers who help them achieve their independent goals.
Maybe starbucks has all those people as well, but at least they don’t lie to their employees and tell them they are a team?
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