Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Starbucks and the average Joe

Technology often makes for better profits, but it can also wreak havoc with workers' lives. That was the lesson last month when Starbucks announced plans to revamp automated scheduling practices that treated workers more like widgets than individuals who had other responsibilities. Now other corporate giants that make millions thanks to the labor of low-income workers should pay heed.

Starbucks' corporate compassion came on the heels of a New York Times article that detailed the plight of a barista who was also a single mother facing enormous challenges juggling an erratic work schedule and parenting duties. She often had little advance notice of when she had to report to work, was assigned to "clopenings" (closing the store late at night and then reopening it just hours later in the morning) and random weekend shifts. The result of such unpredictable work demands weighed on the patchwork of family, friends and preschools that she relied on to assist with caring for her son. It kept her from pursuing higher education to better her opportunities. But despite all the juggling, it still wasn't enough. She frequently didn't get enough hours for full-time work, faced a daunting commute and didn't earn enough money to pay for housing.

Starbucks responded quickly following the article's publication, with executives pledging to revamp automated scheduling procedures and ban "clopenings." Under the new policy, employees will receive work schedules at least a week in advance. Baristas with more than an hourlong commute will be given the option to work closer to home, and store managers will play a more active role in scheduling.

Starbucks has long sought to foster a corporate image of progressive labor practices. It is one of the few quick-service companies that pays its workers more than the $7.25 federal minimum wage and offers benefits such as tuition reimbursement. Its chief executive has even voiced support for raising the minimum wage. But clearly it has been blind to what its scheduling practices meant for those same workers.

Now executives must make sure the edict for more compassionate scheduling actually gets implemented in individual stores. Other retailers and restaurants that have similar automated scheduling systems and restrictive practices — such as sending workers home when business is slow — should follow suit.

As the New York Times article so eloquently highlighted, many low-wage employees work desperately hard to keep jobs so they can keep their families afloat. They cope with scattershot scheduling, a dearth of hours, long commutes, erratic child care and low pay. Companies, communities and extended families should be sensitive to workers' needs. As workers try to improve their economic fortunes and make a better life for themselves and their families, it is clear they cannot do it alone.

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Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Updated: 9 hours ago

Correction

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Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18