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Learning About the Starbucks Union with Employee Luke Hobbs

Luke Hobbs is a local Starbucks employee and member of the emerging Starbucks Union, whose subsidiaries have been popping up all around the country. This week, we sat down with Luke and asked him some questions about Starbucks and the new Union.

Her Campus (HC): Hi Luke! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Luke Hobbs (LH): I’m 19, and I’m a biochem major. I have worked for Starbucks for two and a half years, since I was 16. I am also on the organizing committee for joining the union. Starbucks has been my only job and has felt like a second home for a long time.

HC: What is your position at Starbucks and what does your position entail?

LH: I am a shift supervisor. I direct people to their proper position and stand up for the baristas on the floor. This entails setting the mood of the floor, especially during busy rushes.

HC: How has your experience been working with Starbucks so far?

LH: Working with Starbucks was really good before the pandemic. After the pandemic, we could all feel a shift of the company to keep up profit margins at the expense of our workers. Our pay was increased for a month, but then decreased right after. This felt like a slap in the face because we are essential workers, and the monthly pay increase wasn’t even during the peak of the pandemic. By Black Friday, I was doing the work of a shift supervisor but wasn’t being paid as one. I quit for a short amount of time and when I rejoined, the mood felt a little bit better, but not like the Starbucks I first knew. It felt more about making money than welcoming our guests.

HC: What is the purpose of the Starbucks Union?

LH: The purpose of the Starbucks Union is to make workers’ voices heard in a way that we feel haven’t been heard before. We still support each other, but this union is the best way to achieve change. We want more of a level playing field between management and workers instead of a top-down approach. We want to be more involved in processes and have a say. Additionally, we want higher pay.

HC: Why did you personally join the Starbucks Union?

LH: It’s something I believe in. I believe unions are beneficial to the 40-hour work week. They help improve commissions for people. We can use this outlet to make commissions better and hence make the company better. The union isn’t against Starbucks; it’s pro-Starbucks. We love the company, but we want our voices to be heard and want to be on a level playing field.

HC: What else do you hope to accomplish out of joining the Starbucks Union?

LH: I want better maternity and paternity leave. Currently, employees get six weeks of maternity leave while corporate gets 12 weeks for maternity leave. Someone on the floor working on their feet should have an equal amount of maternity leave as someone in corporate does. Our wages should be higher so people can live comfortably in America. We should be able to have credit card tips. We would also like more of a say in COVID-19 policy. Currently, the isolation is five days. However, you have to use your sick hours if you can’t come in, so if you were exposed, you only get paid for five days even though symptoms can last much longer than that.

HC: Do you have any final thoughts you want to share with us about your experience at Starbucks?

LH: I want to make it clear, the union is not anti-Starbucks. We love being a part of Starbucks. We want to fight for what we believe in: a Starbucks we can call home that we feel comfortable and accepted at. I love my partners and supervisors and I want to fight for what I believe in and also the best interest of my fellow workers.

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Abby is a second-year at Florida State majoring in International Relations. When she isn't studying and writing, you can find her hiking, thrifting, watching movies, or reading a good book.
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