Barista Tuition


Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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11 Responses

  1. I was going to be skeptical and point out that while Starbucks’ decision is potentially “congruent” with what you had written, it’s not really inconsistent with a contractual view of the employer-employee relationship. I do believe that, but I also admit that I’m not quite sure, largely because I think I still don’t understand your point from that other OP.

    In one of your answers to me in that thread, you made a really good (in my opinion) metaphor of a constellation: the stars are still there, but it’s how you draw the lines through them, so that “contract-based” is one way to draw those lines, and “relationship-based” is another. So, granted the tuition program that’s not merely PR-driven BS, how do those stars connect differently for a contract-based and relationship-based approach? I assume you might argue that it’s easier in that case to draw the line in a relationship-based direction, the line being in that case more elegant than the contract-based direction, especially if examples like Starbucks are not outliers.Report

    • Think of it this way: do you, personally, benefit from giving your wife a nice piece of jewelry? If so, the benefit that accrues to you is intangible. What benefit does Starbucks get out of this transaction? More baristas? Better baristas? The answer seems to be “Happier baristas.” How does this help Starbucks’ bottom line? Lower turnover, of course, although turnover has never really been a problem for Starbucks. (In the interview, the Starbucks executive Bragg at Starbucks has the lowest rate of turnover amongst all the restaurants that compete at its level.)

      When you give the nice gift to your spouse, the benefit to yourself is inherently the benefit to your spouse. The benefit to Starbucks is inherently the benefit to each employee. Having happier baristas means that the company is better off — end of analysis.Report

  2. Avatar Kim says:

    comment in mod.Report

  3. Avatar dragonfrog says:

    The coffee brewed in the store is ridiculously poorly roasted, but it does seem to have gotten better over time – I remember trying a coffee circa 1998 about which someone was very excited that it came from something called “Starbucks”, and it was basically charcoal water. Nowadays it’s identifiably coffee – bad coffee, but coffee.

    For some reason though, they have some of the best instant I’ve had. Great if you’re trying to pack light for camping. The individual packets are a bit of an overpackaging issue, but I guess it’s nothing to those Keurig packs.Report

  4. Avatar Fnord says:

    So, about that.
    Almost all the benefits come from ASU offering a discounted rate. The first two years, Starbucks pays nothing at all out of pocket; if federal student aid (Starbucks employees mostly being low-income, after all) don’t cover the reduced tuition, the student/employee is responsible for the difference (estimated to be about $1000 on average). Starbucks pays that difference for the junior and senior years (so, for those years, Starbucks is putting up the $1000.year). It’s not nothing, but the reality seems to be rather less grandiose than the rhetoric.Report