Starbucks baristas Tuesday presented the coffee company with a petition said to contain 80,000 signatures asking Starbucks to give equal parental- leave benefits to store and non-store employees.
Workers advocates are pushing the issue of parental leave on the corporate front, too.
On Tuesday, two Starbucks baristas presented the coffee company with a petition that labor-advocacy group Working Washington said contained 80,000 signatures asking Starbucks to give equal parental-leave benefits to store and non-store employees.
Starbucks said earlier this year that it would expand its parental-leave benefits starting in October. While the expanded benefits give both store and non-store employees more pay while they are on leave than the previous policy, it’s also far more generous to non-store employees. Non-store employees who are birth mothers can take up to 18 weeks of 100 percent paid leave, for instance, while store employees who are birth mothers can get up to six weeks of paid leave at 100 percent pay.
This feels like being “told that we’re somehow different or deserving of something less,” said Jessica Svabenik, of Gig Harbor, one of the two Starbucks baristas who delivered the petition and met with a Starbucks executive on the issue Tuesday.
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“I think about our kids — it’s kind of asking babies to shoulder their parents’ lot in life. Because your parent makes a lower wage, even though it’s the same corporation, you’d get less time with your parents when you’re at your most fragile.”
Starbucks said that the extended parental-leave benefits are “at the forefront compared to what most retailers provide part time or full-time workers.” The higher benefits for non-store workers are an attempt to be more competitive in its efforts to seek and retain talent, the coffee company said.
At Starbucks’ annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday, incoming CEO Kevin Johnson responded to a shareholder’s question on the topic, saying: “We had to make a hard decision how to prioritize.”
“That said,” he added, “we are always taking feedback from our partners. This is just one point in time.”