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Starbucks to Require Employee Availability Around the Clock and Cut Workforce in Major National Initiative

Starbucks to Require Employee Availability Around the Clock and Cut Workforce in Major National Initiative

The Starbucks Coffee Co. is in the process of an extreme revamping of its workforce policies according to company documents obtained by the Starbucks Workers Union of the Industrial Workers of the World. The initiative, dubbed "Optimal Scheduling", will require employees to make themselves available to work essentially around the clock to obtain so-called full-time status. Even for workers able to make the extraordinary sacrifice to obtain "full-time" status, no work hours are guaranteed- identical to Starbucks' current system of part-time status for all retail hourly workers. In addition, Starbucks will lay off workers who cannot meet minimum availability requirements. As baristas learn of the new program, discontent is rising.

"I've had to make myself available each week from Tuesday to Sunday starting at 4:45am until 11pm in the hopes of possibly getting 32 hours of work but not being guaranteed a single hour," said Liberte Locke, a Starbucks barista in New York and member of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union. "It's impossible for me to get a second job now even though I need one and impossible to have a life outside of work."

Under the new system, baristas who opt for pseudo full-time status have to make themselves available to work 70% of the total hours their store is open during the week. In an example given in the company documents, a store open 115 hours per week requires a barista to be available to work 80.5 hours each week - over double the standard work week. Week-to-week Starbucks can then schedule workers anywhere within that availability. In addition, workers who cannot make themselves available for at least three shifts a week will be fired, absent a "compelling reason" which Starbucks has not defined. Weekend workers must be available for at least 16 hours to avoid termination.

"Starbucks' 'Optimal Scheduling' sacrifices family life on the altar of business flexibility," said Daniel Gross, an organizer with the IWW Starbucks Workers Union and a former barista at the coffee chain. "Once upon a time in America, employees got a work schedule they and their families could count on. The Starbucks and Wal-Marts of the world are doing everything in their power to put an end to that security.

The union vows actions around the country against 'Optimal Scheduling'. Founded in 2004, the IWW Starbucks Workers Union is an organization of over 200 current and former baristas united to win a living wage and secure work hours. Through direct action, advocacy, and legal victories, the union has won important workplace improvements for Starbucks baristas around the country.

Related: Starbucks Looks to Reduce Labor Costs, Wall Street Journal- http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122307217095003501.html?mod=googlenews_wsj