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Starbucks Employee Alleges That Credit Card Tips are Being Withheld From Workers; Here's why

Social media activist raises concerns over withheld credit card tips, sparking a larger conversation on corporate promises versus implementation.
Cover Image Source: Tiktok | @unionbarista25
Cover Image Source: Tiktok | @unionbarista25

Tips are considered an essential part of the income for restaurant staff and people who provide other services, as many Americans are able to make ends meet through the added income. But tipping culture has become the subject of a prolonged debate on social media, with customers increasingly demanding that restaurants pay their staff well instead of relying on tips. Now Starbucks has come under scrutiny for allegedly withholding credit card tips from unionized workers, spotlighted by TikTok activist Meghin (@unionbarista25), revealing an ongoing struggle between the coffee chain and its staff.

Tiktok | @unionbarista25
Image Source: Tiktok | @unionbarista25

According to reports, Starbucks Workers United, an organization formed by baristas, claims to have unionized 400 stores and amassed over 10,000 members since its inception in 2021. Meghin, a prominent figure in the movement, took to TikTok to address concerns raised by viewers regarding the lack of credit card tipping in unionized Starbucks stores.

Despite a recent settlement between the company and Workers United, which purportedly granted unionized workers access to credit card tips, the TikToker alleges that the benefits have yet to materialize.

Tiktok | @unionbarista25
Image Source: Tiktok | @unionbarista25

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Dot, Meghin expressed disappointment over Starbucks' failure to deliver on its promises. "Union stores can’t receive credit card tipping because Starbucks has been illegally withholding that benefit for almost two years now," she said. 

Furthermore, she accused Starbucks of selectively granting benefits to non-unionized cafes while neglecting their unionized counterparts. This discrepancy, according to Meghin, undermines the efforts of the union and serves as a deterrent to future organizational efforts.

Starbucks, on the other hand, maintains that it is committed to fostering positive relationships with its employees, referred to as "partners."

Tiktok | @unionbarista25
Image Source: Tiktok | @unionbarista25

The dispute extends beyond credit card tips, with unionized workers further advocating for a more relaxed dress code and inclusive apron sizes. Despite these demands, the company allegedly rolled out new benefits for non-union employees that mirrored the union's requests.

Commenters on Meghin's TikTok video express solidarity with the workers. The sentiment among customers, however, appears mixed, with some pledging to boycott Starbucks. "Before October I used to drive 30 minutes to go to the union store closest. I’m rooting for you guys!!!! I worked for Starbucks for 2 years," a user commented.

"Roastery partner here. This agreement also includes back pay for all current partners for due raises and the average tips people should have received," another user wrote.

Meghin confirmed the accuracy of this statement, saying, "I was somebody that was getting paid $13 and my raise was supposed to go up to $15 and we had to wait a month after all the other stores, all the non-union stores go their raise before we got ours."

Tiktok | @unionbarista25
Tiktok | @unionbarista25

Recent developments suggest a potential breakthrough in negotiations between Starbucks and Workers United. An agreement to establish a framework for collective bargaining signifies progress in the ongoing dialogue between the two parties.

"While there is important work ahead, coming together to work on this framework represents an important step forward and is a clear demonstration of a shared commitment to working collaboratively on behalf of partners," Starbucks wrote in the email.

For more updates on the story, follow Meghin (@unionbarista25) on TikTok.