When one’s problems are in the realm of having to wait in line to get a $5 (or more) cup of coffee, blissful ignorance to the plight of those serving the coffee apparently is to be expected. Having worked at a Starbucks for a cup of coffee (pun intended) I know that the vast majority of Starbucks customers care about the baristas serving them just as much as fast food customers care about the people serving them their burgers and burritos.
The only difference between the people who work at Starbucks and the people who work at fast food is the ratio of Latino-American’s behind the counters, wearing the aprons/uniforms. The majesticness of espresso cafés has been thoroughly destroyed by the corporate culture of Starbucks, and the fact that they added drive thrus. Starbucks is just another fast food joint, the only difference is they specialize in beverages. The way they treat their employees has been akin to how fast food workers have been treated and paid, poorly.
A recent article in the New York Times showed just how inhumanely Starbucks employees are treated. The focus on the article was related to scheduling. The article raised such public ire that Starbucks has immediately gone into damage control, introducing sweeping changes to their scheduling system. Most baristas I have talked to are on a, we’ll believe it when we see it attitude. Why? Because management has zero credibility when it comes to treating employees like whole people. Baristas, much like the majority of service industry and retail industry workers are treated like marks on expense reports. Treated as just another inventory item, like the cups and straws.
The managers in the store aren’t too often the enemy because in a corporation, the store managers themselves are just another cog in the machine. Unless you are in a suite, most corporations will only care if you die because of the profit loss they may endure having to move resources around to cover your duties. I’ve only worked for so many corporations so I’m not going to be Mr. Anti Capitalism here, but Starbucks I have worked for. They care about you only if they can’t immediately replace you. I’m willing to bet many other people working at lower levels of corporations would say the same thing.
The inhumane treatment of employees spotlighted in the NYT article once again shows the high cost of the low prices and fast service America’s shrinking middle class has come to expect and the 1% can’t live without. Eyes shut, ears covered, just give me what I want at the lowest possible price in the shortest amount of time involving the least amount of effort. That is the American attitude towards buying things. That is why e-commerce has destroyed brick and mortar stores. We can lie to ourselves about technology all we want. I worked retail and counted hundreds of customers per week who would shop in stores then buy online to avoid paying tax. No concern for the human beings who suffered so they could save a few bucks.
Corporate management seems to be a reflection of the customers, me first. It has always amazed me that working class people have so little regard for other working class people. I thought as I got older I would understand it, but I am yet to grasp it beyond greed, ego, and the victim mindset. Working hard, having a bad day, and/or being upset gives no person any right to impart suffering on another. It is great that Starbucks is changing policies and procedures that will benefit their employees. However, until Americans can start accepting higher costs for non-essential purchases so that the people who make, transport, and sell them can have a higher quality of life, then clopening is just another symptom being addressed while the cause of the illness goes avoided.