Mark (mhaithaca) wrote,

Seasonal fluctuations (219.9)

Baristas in the local Gimme! Coffee chain voted overwhelmingly to unionize almost two years ago, which has generally been seen as a good thing.

Now, the barista union is expressing a desire for eliminating tipping and accomplishing two specific different things:

1) Balancing pay across stores, so staff working the same number of hours at a quieter, lower-traffic store won't be penalized for having fewer customers or lower tips.

2) Balancing pay across seasons, so staff who have to pay the same rent and food costs every month can expect the same income every month.

MacchiatoPooling store revenue so staff at each store make the same amount per hour worked seems reasonable. I wouldn't call it a no-brainer, since you could plausibly say that a barista working at a much-busier store is probably working harder, but there's a valid case to be made that people should be paid the same per hour for the same job.

But if the seasonal pay variation is because fewer customers are coming in over the winter, and so the coffee shops are hiring fewer people or giving them fewer hours, how can the company be expected to make up that difference?

It's not that I don't think baristas deserve to make as much money all year. It's just that I'm not sure where it should come from. Should the company pay them less per week than they might otherwise, so they can be paid the same amount 52 weeks per year?

When restaurants have outdoor seating in the summer, they hire more staff to work more hours. That's the seasonal nature of that business. Should the restaurant pay those people through the winter, too?

I'm genuinely curious. I'd love to hear that there's a good solution.

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