We all need time to care.
That’s why we were all glad to see Starbucks recently take a big step forward on paid parental leave. But why does their policy specify different amounts of leave for different types of parents?
The Starbucks policy specifies that store employees would get dramatically less parental leave than corporate employees. Baristas who aren’t birth mothers wouldn’t get any paid time off at all. And the policy does not apply to any other situation when employees may need time to care for their families.
Now workers and customers are calling on the company to update their policy so it can be a model for our state & our nation by apply equitably to all types of employees, all types of parents, and all types of families.
We need time to care because we have families, too.
"Paid family leave can define the beginning of a child's life.
When I was pregnant with our twins we were living in California. I had to have an emergency c-section for our second twin and having my husband home in the weeks after was so crucial to my being able to nurse both babies. I truly could not have done it alone.
What bothered me was that I knew if we ever had another child outside of California that we would not have this help.
CHILDREN ALL DESERVE TO BE NURTURED AND DOTED UPON EVERY WAKING MOMENT IN THEIR FIRST WEEKS, NOT JUST CHILDREN BORN INTO MONEY."
Jess S., Starbucks Barista, Gig Harbor
"My significant other developed very serious health issues and both him and I work in the retail/food and beverage industry. It's a huge issue to not have paid time off in this industry for your family because if you don't work, you can't survive.
No matter on what job position you have, everyone should have equal benefits from barista to the director."
Rachel B., former Starbucks barista, Seattle
"The retail partners are the core of how we keep our customers coming back! You can ask any customer why they love their regular Starbucks, they will NEVER say it's because of someone in the corporate office.
I know that our corporate employees are just as important to the success of the company, which is why we all deserve equal family paid time off!
A few years ago i provided childcare service to my co-worker who was the opening supervisor at my store, I was the closing supervisor. I provided her actual time and gave her the freedom to take care of her responsibilities financially. Seeing as how we are both long term partners with Starbucks it is hard to want to stay around with the company when these are common sacrifices for families.
I am proud to be a partner and thankful for the morals and ethics of the company and when it comes to this policy, anything otherwise sends the wrong message.
Paid family leave is something that needs to be created with every employer to support its employees. And to maintain a successful business, the key is to support your employees in the areas of their life that matter the most."
Stephanie S., Starbucks barista, Seattle.
It’s not a special right to love your children. Low income people want to care for their families as much as people earning more money.
No one at daycare is going to hold your two-week old baby for as long as he needs. It is heartbreaking, anguishing to hand over your baby, to leave your baby so soon.
And there is a special torment for a mom in sending a sick child to school because of needing the work hours to pay the rent--of always being torn between a child's health, and the need to provide a roof over their head.
Studies tell us that it's better for newborns and parents to spend at least three months together. It's critical for children's development.
I think it is wrong to value office workers and their families more than baristas. Our communities are stronger when workers can count on being available for their families when it's needed.”
Mary-Anne, Starbucks barista, Shoreline
When my son Isaac was born, it was not a tough decision for me to decide whether to take unpaid leave; rather, it was not an option.
We had moved to Seattle 7 months prior to expecting, and both of us leaving work would have placed too much financial strain.
My wife's employer at the time did offer paid family leave, covering a percentage of her salary, so she took that (she would have needed to take it anyway, because of the infant's needs early on, plus most daycares only offer care starting at 3 months).
I was on the verge of taking a leave of absence for up to 12 months "baby bonding time", but the policy indicated I would have been required to use up my vacation time (not sick time), and I would not have been paid outside the vacation pay. So I cancelled the leave of absence, as it would have further complicated things and been more stressful.
All in all, things worked out, but it was a very stressful time due to a number of factors. If we were taking time off and had not needed to worry about our finances as much, it certainly would have eased the burden.
Starbucks is long overdue for recognizing the need to implement paid parental policies, since they have prided themselves on being leaders in healthcare.
This change is a big step for Starbucks. They deserve recognition for that just as much as they deserve continued pressure to stay ahead of the curve."
— Adam S. long-time Starbucks employee, Seattle
"Last year when I found out I was pregnant with my first baby, I was thrilled and excited and worried and nervous all at the same time.
It wasn’t until I was actually in labor at the hospital that I found out I wouldn’t get paid a single day for my maternity leave, being only a few hours short to qualify. Even if I had qualified, the leave I would have gotten would be paltry compared to the time that corporate headquarters workers get.
All parents know how precious every minute is with a newborn — but we shouldn’t have to count that time in minutes, or mere days.
Hard-working families across the country are facing a caregiving crisis. Every parent deserves the chance to bond with their baby, and that you can’t get that time back. It’s time for the company’s leadership to acknowledge that baristas deserve the chance to be there with their babies, just as much as the staff in corporate headquarters."
—Kristen, Starbucks barista, Ohio
"When I got pregnant with my first, my husband and I were living in a 700 sq. ft. apartment in Seattle with three dogs. He was looking for work, so at that time, I was the sole breadwinner working at Starbucks. He took what he could get, a night job at a produce distributor.
Even with those two incomes, we were struggling to pay bills. With a baby on the way, I knew that wouldn’t cut it.
I was able to get a second job while pregnant as a part-time bartender. I would work 12-7pm at Starbucks, then 8pm-2am at the bar. I did that until I was 7 months pregnant, and put aside some money because I knew I would have to take a stretch of unpaid leave. Unfortunately, we had a family emergency and had to use $3,000 that I had saved during that period.
We went into having my first baby with no savings, and only 6 weeks of partial pay. And I was going to try to take unpaid leave for 12 weeks, so what would that look like? My husband lucked out and was able to get overtime, but I needed to get back to work.
Once my three months were up, I went back to work. I was still breastfeeding. I wanted to make sure my baby was only fed breastmilk. I had to pump regularly while I was at work, in the back or in the bathroom. It wasn’t the best environment and it wasn’t working. I eventually had to use formula which I really didn’t want to do. We were working ourselves to the bone on opposite schedules, napping when we could and taking care of the baby. Eventually my husband lost his overtime, so I had to pick up my other job at the bar again.
My child was 2, and we were still living with all of us and the dogs in that small apartment, so we knew we had to move. We also had to include my mother-in-law who wasn’t able to work and needed some help and a place to stay.
We moved to Orting, and I was able to transfer to Starbucks near there. I got pregnant with my 2nd and I thought, I know how this goes. I’ll get 6 weeks paid, 12 weeks unpaid and then I’ll return to work. It’s not easy, but we’d just make it work. What I didn’t realize, is that I didn’t qualify for the 12 weeks. I was told I’d have to come back after 6 weeks.
I decided I just wouldn’t be able to come back. I had to give up my job and my benefits. My husband and I are now paying out of pocket for health insurance. We’re self-employed; my husband started his own company when his father passed away, building upon what his father had built and taught him.
We’re getting by check-to-check, but it’s the only way we were able to make it work. We’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices because we just weren’t able to take time off for our children.
—Tawny L., former Starbucks Barista
Last year my son Kai was born, and he died due to complications from delivery after only two days. Starbucks said I wasn’t allowed more paid maternity leave because there wasn’t a baby anymore — I got a total of $140 dollars. You never think something like that will happen to you - and with all the stress and heartbreak, it is so hard to also have to worry about finances instead of just being able to grieve.
I only had two days with my first child. I know how precious every minute is during that early time. I know that every parent deserves the chance to bond with their baby, and that you can’t get that time back.
Please, Starbucks, your baristas deserve the chance to be there with their babies, just as much as the staff in your corporate headquarters.
— Amber, Starbucks barista, California
"I took in foster kids that the system failed, and left to the streets. They became part of my family, and have since grown up to be parents with families of their own.
I needed time from work to get these new members of my family settled and in a new school, etc. The first employer I had when taking in a temp foster kid made it clear that they considered themselves more important in my life than the new addition to my family, and they asked me to choose between keeping a kid off the streets and keeping my job. I chose to find another place of employment.
I needed to be able to safely set work aside briefly, because family is more important. I needed to be able to do that with kids I did NOT "make" myself. I cannot imagine having to start a family from the beginning without being able to take paid time off.
Paid family leave is necessary, no matter what position in the company you hold. If a company does not support this for their employees, they are probably not a good company to work for.
Starbucks claims to care about families, people, their community--but claims mean nothing without action. Prove your words.
Take care of your employees fairly, and not based on how "high up" the ladder they've climbed.
Without your baristas, your coffee isn't made, your coffee shops aren't staffed, and your coffee isn't purchased or sold, which means the ladder corporate is standing on crumbles."
— Anonymous barista, Seattle