It was only a year ago that disgruntled workers packed the Fulton Mall in Brooklyn, New York to protest against the painstakingly low salaries offered by the Starbucks corporation. A Starbucks Barista earns $8.79 an hour, or about $17,580 a year for a 40 hour-week, it takes their CEO, Howard Schultz, a mere 1.2 hours to earn the average worker’s annual salary.
The people in Brooklyn called for Starbuck’s minimum wage to be raised to $15 , and whilst Schultz has admitted that there was scope for it to happen, nothing has been done since.
Whilst this won’t be music to their employees ears, the news that Starbucks is expanding its free tuition program might go some way to making up for the low wages on offer. The initiative was implemented last year, but last week it was announced that workers could now be reimbursed for the full four years of education, not just the first two.
As of now, there are 2,200 workers enrolled at Arizona State University through the program, with another 1,800 waiting in the wings. If all goes successfully, the 1,800 could find that they’re studying at the end of the summer.
Starbucks have reportedly invested $250 million in the scheme and see it as a way of attracting talented young prospects to the company. The scheme is also designed to make sure that employees have a genuine connection to the company, essential in a customer facing environment.
It seems to be working too, 50% of the 7,000 people who applied for a job with Starbucks reported that the main reason they wanted employment with them was due to the scheme.
What’s also commendable about the scheme is that there is no obligation for students to remain with Starbucks after they’ve graduated, meaning that program is designed to help motivate employees in the here and now.
After the rallies in 2014, it shows that Starbucks does have a heart after all - just make sure you don’t mention it those who aren’t interesting in enrolling at college.