What Starbucks and Whole Foods Have in Common

StarbucksIf I have to take a $10 per hour job, I do hope at least the title is something like “grunt,” “shitheal,” or the more accurate “serf.” Please don’t let it be something like “barista,” which sounds vaguely European and thus respectable. The issue comes up because Will just sent me an article in the Huffington Post, Former Starbucks Barista, Fired After Eating From Trash. It tells the story of Coulson Loptmann, a 21 year old “barista” who was fired after fishing a breakfast sandwich out of the trash to eat. This is what Starbucks calls stealing. Apparently, it is what Starbucks employees call a “benefit.”

Normally, companies have rules about taking things out of the trash because they are afraid that employees will put them in the trash for the reason of taking them out of the trash. That doesn’t seem to be the case here. In fact, although Starbucks said first that Loptmann was fired because this was “stealing” they now claim it was wrong because it violated health codes. Also: it was just the last straw and the young “barista” was a terrible employee, a fact released only after Starbucks started getting bad press over the firing.

The whole thing is corporate think from top to bottom. At most places that sell food, free food is one of the benefits of working. But at a corporate business, this is a no no, because they’ve worked out just how many dollars they lose from such behavior over the eternity that corporations exist. It’s big money and employees are only resources, no more and (Thankfully!) no less than the jar of mayonnaise.

The Post article also mentions a similar story where Whole Foods fired an employee for taking a tuna sandwich out of the trash. How proud the people at these companies must be! I mean, in the high tech world that I’m familiar with, people are paid enough that they would never go looking for food in the trash. But at these two companies, this seems to be common. And what exactly ties Starbucks and Whole Foods together? I’ll tell you: (1) they are really expensive and (2) they pay their employees really badly. I guess there is a third thing that binds them: their clientele are mostly the upper middle class who would not like the idea of the employees being paid so poorly, but not enough to drive a block out of their way to go to a local place.

I am willing to grant everything to these companies. Loptmann probably was a terrible employee. It really is wrong for employees to take food out of the garbage. But what I’m not willing to grant them is that they pay their employees a reasonable salary. I’m far more accepting of Walmart: they pay poorly, but at least they provide good prices. I get better prices at my local health food store than I do at Whole Foods. So all I can figure is that the employees of Starbucks and Whole Food are not sharing in the profits. It must be a good time to own Starbucks and Whole Foods. But it is not a good time for any liberal minded person to frequent these businesses.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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