How baristas organized, spoke out, and won a more equitable corporate paid family leave policy at Starbucks

  Above: Jess Svabenik, a barista from Gig Harbor, and Kristen Piccolo, a barista from Ohio, deliver tens of thousands of petitions to Starbucks Headquarters calling on the company to make their paid leave policy more equitable.

Above: Jess Svabenik, a barista from Gig Harbor, and Kristen Piccolo, a barista from Ohio, deliver tens of thousands of petitions to Starbucks Headquarters calling on the company to make their paid leave policy more equitable.

After months of organizing by baristas and overwhelming support from customers, Starbucks announced this morning that they are making a big improvement to their corporate paid family leave policy.

They're saying it's about tax cuts. But we know that baristas made this happen.

Here’s how:

  • 1/19/2017 — Starbucks announces wildly inequitable parental leave policy which provided that store employees would get dramatically less parental leave than corporate employees, and baristas who aren’t birth mothers wouldn’t get any paid leave  at all.. In response, petitions sprouted up across the country — including a Working Washington effort to try and get the corporate PR department to explain.
     
  • 3/17/2017 — PL+US releases The Haves and Have Nots of Paid Leave, a report looking at the inequality of corporate paid leave policies at companies like Starbucks

  • 3/21/2017 — Jess Svabenik, a barista from Gig Harbor, and Kristen Piccolo, a barista from Ohio made a huge splash in the media when they delivered tens of thousands of petitions to Starbucks headquarters calling on the company to make their paid leave policy more equitable. They are able to meet with the VP of Global Benefits and share their concerns.

  • 3/22/2017 - The very next day, Kristen attends the annual shareholder meeting and takes the opportunity ask the new CEO about the inequitable policy — and he says he’ll consider improvements if he hears more feedback. She’s joined by Adam Sachs, who worked at a Starbucks store in Seattle when he became a new parent and was unable to afford family leave.
     
  • 6/23/2017 - Starbucks partner Niko Walker leads an effort to highlight the impact of Starbucks’ inequitable leave policy on LGBTQ employees in the stores.

  • 6/30/2017 - The Washington State Legislature passes statewide paid family and medical leave. The new law will provide 12 weeks of paid leave to everyone who works in Washington State, regardless of whether they work in a corporate office, in food service, or in some other job. The law is set to take effect on January 1, 2020. 

  • 9/19/2017 -Leading investment firms led by Zevin Asset management file a shareholder resolution calling on Starbucks to address issues of discrimination in their paid leave policy

  • 10/1/2017 - Starbucks paid parental leave policy takes effect. It is modified to include some people who had been previously excluded… but it’s pretty weird and it’s entirely unclear why they’re making it so complicated.

  • 1/1/2018 - The minimum wage increases statewide in Washington to $11.50/hour, and to $15.00/hour or $15.45/hour for Starbucks baristas in Seattle.

  • 1/24/2018 - Starbucks finally expands policy to provide paid parental leave for all baristas and also announces raises. It's a big breakthrough (although baristas still get less than corporate employees).

And at that point, after a year-long campaign and several intermediate improvements along the way, Starbucks says they’re making the change…because of tax cuts.

But we know better. The real credit goes to the baristas with Working Washington and other organizations across the country who led the way, the customers who spoke out in support, and organizations like PL+US who kept on organizing, pushing for change, and making it all happen.

And our work continues — with your support.