Starbucks sucks?

It’s amazing how many Starbucks customers don’t know what it’s like to work at Starbucks,” said Ken Miller, an IWW member and former Starbucks worker.

According to this article, there was a massive (read 20 people strong) protest at a Squirrel Hill Starbucks demanding that Starbucks workers be allowed to unionize … or something.

My question isn’t regarding the unionization of Starbucks or whether or not free speech was impeded here.
My question to you Burghers is this … does is REALLY suck that bad to work at Starbucks?!?!?!

Why are my baristas so damn chirpy all the time then?


  1. apolitical
    November 29, 2006 4:41 pm

    Of course it doesn’t suck to work at Starbucks. The East End in general and Squirrel Hill in particular is a hotbed of liberalism. Those ninnies would complain if they were paid to play golf and drink beer all day – because it’s all in celebration of the rights of the “working man”!

  2. apolitical
    November 29, 2006 4:58 pm

    On the other hand, taking espresso orders from effete North Face fleece vest wearing, gigantic SUV driving, lap-top toting lovers of Hilary Rodham Clinton would probably grate on one’s nerves – power to the people!

  3. Tep
    November 30, 2006 7:52 am

    Working there can’t suck as much as going there.

  4. blee
    November 30, 2006 9:05 am

    What is with people in this town and yelling ‘Union’ as soon as some of them get pissed about their jobs.

    1) Get a job somewhere else
    2) Get off your ass, get an education, and get a better job
    3) Unions are NOT always a good thing. The Carnegie’s of the world don’t really exist in America anymore. You have other options, try using them.

    My father was very high up in a very large union in Pittsburgh and in his later years even he thought unions were a joke and a scam.

  5. gjhead
    November 30, 2006 9:13 am

    A union for people who pour coffee?

    Umm… yeah…. whatever.

  6. Mike
    November 30, 2006 10:05 am

    Starbucks is regularly listed among the best places to work every year by Fortune Magazine. In fact, this year they were 29:

  7. ethan
    November 30, 2006 10:10 am

    infoshop news? ut-oh, watch out kdka!!

  8. bern1
    November 30, 2006 11:05 am

    Perky and chirpy … Sweet.

  9. Megan
    November 30, 2006 11:07 am

    Yes. It sucks that bad to work in food service of any type, especially when you’re the first person many of your customers speak to in the morning.

  10. pops
    November 30, 2006 11:58 am

    Perhaps the problem is they give you 30+ hours a week while you are on your probation period but that as soon as you come off probation and are to start getting benefits then suddenly there are not that many hours at the store for you. You are told that you can call some other stores and see if they have hours that you can pick up.

    If you ask me that is somewhat of a shitty deal.

    I don’t necessarily think that they need to unionize but I do think that the company should not make false promises.

  11. jl
    November 30, 2006 12:55 pm

    apolitical: come on, a REAL liberal east-end ninny such as myself takes the bus or rides a bike and goes to the 61c cafe, or kiva han, or the beehive–take your pick of the many fine independently-owned coffee houses around our fair city. the ones driving their SUVs to starbucks are just poseurs and not worth the time you take to think up your hilarious barbs. get your targets right, man.

    anyway, re: unions at starbucks. silly on the surface, yes, because aren’t most starbuckers college students, or artist-types supplementing their income? there are exceptions, of course: with the decline of manufacturing jobs in this country, service-related hourly wage jobs (including but not limited to those at starbucks) are often one of the only forms of income available to under-educated people from difficult backgrounds. how terrible would it be to have SOME entity looking out for them, since the corporation (and the government, obvs) doesn’t give two shits whether they’re earning a living wage or not?

  12. Awesome Comet
    November 30, 2006 1:38 pm

    It’s debatable whether or not Starbucks employees OUGHT to unionize. But whether they have that RIGHT isn’t up for dispute. I’m intersted in what Starbucks “anti-union activities” consist; threats of termination, intimidation, lies about dues, and enforced attendance at propoganda meetings are all illegal.

    Why would working at Starbucks suck? If you might also have an aversion to Scientology and similar cults. An employee recently told me that the Starbucks mindset is basically an “excellent fall-back position for the weak and easily confused.”

    All that enforced lunar perkiness really puts me off. I wouldn’t go at all if it weren’t the only place in town I could reliably find my NYTimes, being the effete squirrel hill expatriot that I am.

  13. Evan
    November 30, 2006 3:59 pm

    I was perusing the great Fortune 500 rankings, and noticed they had the following in the Starbucks entry:

    Most common job (hourly) Coordinator II $35,067

    Is there anyone who really things that this is the most common job at Starbucks, or that baristas make anything close to this?? I’ve spoken to many who told me they got about ten cents for a raise after doing solid work, not to mention the roller-coaster schedules. And they were making under $8 at the time.

  14. rt.puck
    December 17, 2006 11:55 pm

    I work at a local coffeehouse in my town and we have frequently been mistaken for Starbucks. However, as a barista I can say that while my job is difficult I would in no way consider it worth unionizing. Working at a coffeehouse is about having a passion for coffee, not about anything else. If you aren’t willing to put forth 100% into every cup of coffee or every other drink, purely for the pleasure of providing an excellent product, then you do not deserve to work with coffee or espresso at all. If you want a job that you can make more money at, by all means go find one, don’t bitch and complain about things that are in your control. You knew the expectations of you coming into the job, don’t try to shirk out of them with a Union beauracracy.

  15. Mojo No Joe
    August 16, 2007 12:35 am

    Wow. I guess I shouldn’t be amazed at the amount of ignorance the responses have shown regarding unionizing, workers’ rights, etc. Which is why before anyone guffaws at unionizing, they should know what they are talking about first.

    ALL WORK IS VALUABLE. If no one cleaned the restrooms at a nyc starbucks (for example),then rest assured your pretty little asses would have caught some kind of disease by now. Once you value the work that others do for you, and the work you refuse to do for yourself, it becomes a lot clearer why any worker deserves fair pay, fair rules, fair benefits.

    Starbucks is run like a factory, not like a cafe. In fact, they do not call themselves a “cafe,” but a “retail operation,” and they do that for a lot of reasons (i.e. they are out for money, not culture).

    And in case you didn’t realize this already, the
    reason why starbucks employees are “so chipper” when pouring your coffee is because they ABSOULTELY RELY UPON YOUR TIPS FOR SURVIVAL. The starting wage at starfux is minimum wage plus or minus fifty cents an hour. Sooo, no tips, no survival in the real world where $8.50/hour buys you shiiiiit. The healthcare benefits are so-so. Personally, I know of a lot of covered baristas who had to wait months to see a doctor due to the limited number available to them via their plan. So, it’s not like anyone there gets amazing healthcare coverage (unless you’re in corporate).

    Finally, for details on how starfux is run like a factory and not like the laid-back, fun and relaxed coffee houses on which they are modeled, just go hang out in the back for a while and see how 1) they are understaffed and so the baristas run around like crazy to keep up with all those orders for frappushitos (hello, workplace injuries and exhaustion), 2) running dirty dishes through a sanitizer – which doesn’t actually clean anything – because they have no time to scrub your crumbs off that plate, and 3) absolutely filthy it is back there because again, there’s no time to clean.

    Not to mention baristas scalding themselves at the sanitizer, espresso machine, hot tea spout, or coffee decanter due to all the bitchy, whiny customers who want their double venti half-caf 2% upside-down carmel macchiato right fucking now.

    And when you do clean, you’re exposed to tons of bleach and chemicals which eat away at your skin. nice.

    Finally, baristas get fucked when it comes to proper breaks, get harrassed by the shifts or managers if they are not “fast enough” and are forced to use their own personal cars to run errands for the corporation when the store runs out of something. And no, they do not get reimbursed for mileage or anything else. In other words, the baristas get screwed, as do the shifts, and absolutely deserve to be unionized in order to be treated with the respect their hard work deserves.

    After all, they do all the hard work while Howie, the corporate flunkies and the stock holders count their millions. (Howie Schultz is now a billionaire. I think he can, you know, maybe raise the wage for the baristas.)

  16. Harry
    November 16, 2007 9:19 am

    Mojo Jojo, most people know they are getting into a low paying job when they join starbucks. If you want a high paying job with better health benefits, don’t work in a freaking coffee shop.

    Does starbucks require much in the way of education? If you want a better job, do well in school… Howie Schultz contributes way more to society and the economy than starbucks baristas. Paying Baristas more limits company growth, which means less jobs.

  17. Harry
    November 16, 2007 9:20 am

    Mojo Jojo, most people know they are getting into a low paying job when they join starbucks. If you want a high paying job with better health benefits, don’t work in a freaking coffee shop.

    Does starbucks require much in the way of education? If you want a better job, do well in school… Howie Schultz contributes way more to society and the economy than starbucks baristas. Paying Baristas more limits company growth, which means less jobs.

  18. Beth
    January 27, 2008 11:57 pm

    I’m only about 2 years late in saying this, but working at Starbucks DOES suck. Working any retail job is shitty to be frank. I worked at Starbucks for a year and a half because it was easy to get a job there. Well no fucking wonder, the turn-over rate is so high. Nothing is better than waking up at four in the morning and serving people crack in a cup that they pay five bucks for. What’s even more awesome than that is that they need to justify their paying five bucks for it by cussing the barista’s out and bitching about how they had to wait more than 45 seconds for their drink.

    It’s also really nice to work an eight hour shift of this hell and then the next manager on duty that is some trust fund brat comes up with some bullshit excuse as to why they can’t come into work and you’re stuck working their shift because anyone else who is competent enough to work already quit. Then I’m stuck their until 2 in the morning because I have to clean up the shit smears on the toilet seats after we close.

    The best decision I ever made was to quit Starbucks.

    By the way, the chipperness comes from the combination of all the free caffine we can get and the fact that if we don’t serve beverages without a smile screwed on our faces, we’d lose our jobs.

    Now, do Starbuck’s employees a favor:

    Stick around in the morning one weekend and wait for a bitchy customer to come in and say something stupid like, “That’s not how they made my iced latte in Italy…it’s not that hard, now do it the right way,” and you can pitch in and stick up for your favorite coffee slave and say, “Well get your prick ass out and go back to Italy.” I’m sure you’d make someone’s day. You might even get a free drink out of it.

  19. howard shultz
    February 3, 2008 12:24 am

    hey stop your bitching you whiny geeks.

  20. Rachel V
    February 6, 2008 2:26 pm

    Hey I was just scheduled to leave in an hour to go to a Starbucks job fair, and thanks to you guys I decided to skip out on that B/S. I really didn’t know what to expect, so I thank you guys. I barely get starbucks unless I receive gift cards… Thanks! I am always nice to my baristas!

  21. Clem
    February 18, 2008 10:35 am

    Are you familiar with the “a guy walks into a bar…” joke? Well, Starbucks is the new bar and I have modified the outdated bar joke: I created what I think is a good tongue-in-cheek Starbucks satire site. I am NOT anti-Starbucks..I like their coffee. They spend more on employee benfits than they do on their beans. However, the only time I visit them is to get a steamed-milk-based coffee beverage. That’s the only type I’m not capable of making at home. The environment is great, though. Regardless, we’re free to satirize, aren’t we?

  22. Jerry R
    April 9, 2008 8:40 pm

    Starbucks is just like many big corporate companies. If you like corporate BS, working your ass off for nothing (to carry the company for all those who do nothing but surf the web all day) and being treated like a baby from executive babies, go work there. “Partners” my ass. Compare an Italian espresso to Starbucks…the answer is evident.

  23. BigDave
    July 28, 2008 9:25 am

    I worked at the ultra new Sandy Run Roasting Plant exactly two months and two days until I just got in my car and came home. The new plant is a disaster. It resembles something out of 1912 Detroit. A roasting machine operator is expected to stand on concrete twelve and a half hours a day beside their machine. All the other plants have air conditioned control rooms where the operators are allowed to sit at a desk and access the controls on the Probats. The new plant is a disgrace to mankind. The state of South Carolina was desperate to have jobs so another sweat shop is no big deal. Roaster operators in the new plant are paid three to four dollars less on the hour than the other plants too. I have an A.S. degree so I am lucky enough to just say no to this misery and move on.I also couldn’t get my head around them volunteering me for charity work on my days off.The whole concept is idiotic.Oh yeah….I am one of those social dregs that smokes cigarettes. They informed me two weeks after being hired that they would be a smoke free “campus” after Dec.31,08…The minute I heard “campus” my bullshit detector went off. I posted here because I used to live in the Burgh and my wife was born and raised there.I’m switching back to instant Folgers and going back to my old job….It’s sort of nice to hear them whine about all the money they spent training me,but hey…..This is an “AT WILL” state that clearly states we can be fired for any reason or no reason….the other side of the coin is I can quit for any reason or no reason.If you weren’t so sleezy and deceptive ,you wouldn’t have this probem. I believe Starbucks in 1-2 years will just be a brand name stuck on the side of a product made by Kraft or Pepsico. The place is dieing.It’s time to move on and get clear of it before the economy flops any worse.

  24. Diego
    September 6, 2008 5:35 am

    Starbucks is a pretty shitty place to work, even in terms of retail. While there are decent people there, it is also a haven for incompetent petty tyrants and resturaunt politics.

    For my first 6 months as a barista, I opened nearly every day – often to cover for uppity rich bitches who were resenful at the idea that they actually had to work for a living. In return I got slammed on my review because I was not “chipper” enough. In otherwords I was not behaving like a fucking robotic wind up doll and was letting my human personality come out. Their whole take on customer service takes it to a new level of Orwellian insanity. “Be Genuine” while being completely fake. Nobody is happy all the time and bright with a plastic smile on their face — sure, customer service requires a certain amount of phoniness, but Starbucks turns this into hyperbole.

    Real coffee shops do not penalize baristas for allowing their real personalities to come out and enhance actual human interaction. Working for Starbucks is like being assimiliated into the Borg Collective.

    Furthermore, after busting my ass for 7 months at that job, I fell victim to a shift supervisor who had a personal problem with me (probably because I am a man, and because I actually have a sense of humor that isn’t disgustingly contrived) and decided to play politics to get me fired. I requrested to transfer stores or even move shifts and, due to corporate policy, was not given any room in this regard. It was a clear example of how non-unionized workers at the bottom of the shit heap hierarchy have no rights when push comes to shove. My side of the conflict with that one shift supervisor was not even heard.

    The only positive aspect of my “Starbucks Experience” is that I am now much more resilient to such bullshit — it was rather Nietzschean learning experience.

    Perhaps a person on drugs, or one who is so well adapted to the slave mentality may flourish there, but all free spirited individuals who value their dignity over social comfort and conformity should steer clear. Then again, anyone who is of sound mind and will already knows this…

    Fuck Starbucks….support your locally owned coffee shop!

  25. Over it!
    September 13, 2008 10:48 pm

    Just wanted to let you all know that I have worked for Stabucks for over five years and made the decision to leave today. I feel better than I have since I joined the company. Also, the job is very difficult and even the store managers are completely under paid if they’re doing their jobs right. Starbucks has trained people and taught them to be rude.I give decaf to people who piss me off…what’s sad is that it is the highlight of my day.

  26. Over It Too
    September 30, 2008 9:21 am

    I work at SB in Fort Lauderdale, and I’m considering already putting my two weeks notice in after working about two months in. I don’t really like working with two people as it is. What’s kind of worse is that they and a few more act up really bad..I’m in my thirties and I’m getting too old to tolerate this. I have no authority over this situation since I’m not a supervisor, and I feel that if I complain it will only make me look bad in the end…since I’m more disposable of course. Our manager just got fired and she had been there with SB for over 9 years.