UNITE HERE Releases Report Showing Income Disparity Between Black and White Baristas

We all know that the best way to combat discrimination and inequality in the workplace is with a union contract. We fight for a voice on the job and the ability to build a good life for ourselves and our families. That’s why we fight for $15 and a UNION. Workers should not be intimidated from organizing

UNITE HERE released a report this week that underlines the inequality that so many workers face.

The report, entitled “One Job Should Be Enough: Inequality at Starbucks,” was released this week by hospitality workers union UNITE HERE. The analysis reveals differences between public statements and claims Starbucks has made about its efforts to address issues such as racial pay equity, LGBTQ inclusion, and access to higher education at Starbucks-operated stores, and the reality for thousands of Starbucks workers employed by HMSHost at airports across the country.

Baristas have also filed complaints under the City of Orlando anti-discrimination ordinance alleging discrimination based on gender identity and gender expression.

“Managers have made transphobic and homophobic comments. It makes me feel in a way that I’m going back into the closet, which is very unnerving to me,” said Gabriel Ocasio Mejias, an HMSHost Starbucks barista at Orlando International Airport. After speaking out about mistreatment and starting to organize a union, Gabriel was fired on February 18, 2020.

Key findings in the report include:

  • Starbucks claims the median pay ratio for people of color working at its stores in the U.S. is 100 percent, but across Starbucks locations operated by HMSHost in 27 U.S. airports, the median wage for Black baristas was $1.85 less than for white baristas in 2019.
  • When Starbucks closed stores for racial bias training in 2018, airport Starbucks stores remained open.
  • Starbucks workers employed by HMSHost at airports across the country are living in poverty—some have been homeless, slept at the airport, unable to afford food, or forced to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. Thirty-two percent of respondents to UNITE HERE’s survey of 309 out of 2,512 workers from September 2019 to February 2020 were unable to pay their rent in the past year.
  • In multiple airports, LGBTQ baristas reported offensive and transphobic comments from managers, harassment regarding their gender expression, and repeated misgendering.
  • Over 25% of immigrant workers surveyed reported being told not to speak their preferred language at work.