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‘Coffee-making robots’: Starbucks staff face intense work and customer abuse


Some workers at Starbucks have described under staffing at stores, intense workloads, and customers who have changed their ordering habits and become increasingly aggressive and confrontational during the coronavirus pandemic.

Throughout the pandemic, Starbucks workers around the US have faced several reported incidents of being verbally abused or physically assaulted by customers over coronavirus safety protocols.


In March 2021, Starbucks shareholders rejected an executive compensation plan for CEO Kevin Johnson in a non-binding vote, as dozens of corporations have boosted executive pay while many of their rank-and-file workers have struggled during the coronavirus pandemic.


The workers explained they are regularly subjected to customer satisfaction surveys where they are at risk of being written up if they fail the surveys and the pressure to meet drive-thru time quotas, as drive-thru sales and an emphasis on drive-thrus from Starbucks corporate have increased during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Starbucks definitely took this turn to becoming just another fast-food drive-thru,” added the Starbucks shift supervisor. “They want us to just be these robots that move fast, we’re just little drones to them that just need to pump out as many lattes as we can in a half-hour.”

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