Posts tagged with "Starbucks"

Starbucks scraps vaccine mandate

January 21, 2022

Employees at Starbucks—all 228,000 of them nationwide— are no longer required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, reports Fox Business.

Roughly a week after the Supreme Court reversed President’s Biden workplace vaccine mandate, the coffee chain is following suit, according to The Associated Press.

“We respect the Court’s ruling and will comply,” Starbucks Chief Operating Officer John Culver wrote in a memo to employees.

Still, the coffee chain is encouraging all workers to be vaccinated and boosted against the virus.  “I want to emphasize that we continue to believe strongly in the spirit and intent of the mandate,” Culver added. “Thank you to the more than 90% of partners who have already disclosed their vaccination status, and to the vast majority who are now fully vaccinated.”

Research contact: @Starbucks

Trump’s Goodyear boycott shows how political and social tensions can flare over workplace attire

August 21, 2020

On August 19, President Donald Trump urged Americans nationwide to boycott Akron, Ohio-based Goodyeartweeting, “Don’t buy GOODYEAR TIRES – They announced a BAN ON MAGA HATS.”

The tire company said there was no specific ban, but it had asked employees to refrain from some workplaces expressions that might inflame political and social discourse at work.  

And Goodyear is not the only American business that is trying to stop divisive debates in the workplace. Even as companies declare support for the Black Lives Matter movement, some are not allowing employees to wear masks or other attire that expresses solidarity with the cause, The Chicago Tribune reports.

Employees have pushed back against what they say is an attempt to silence them—staging protests at Whole Foods, denouncing Trader Joe’s on Twitter, calling for boycotts of Taco Bell and Starbucks—while their employers defend the restrictions as a matter of dress code.

Alrady, there have been attire-related incidents: On Long Island, New York, a Target customer was asked to leave after confronting an employee wearing a Black Lives Matter mask and asking if she didn’t think all lives matter, according to news reports describing the June 25 incident.

Employers, reluctant to alienate customers or employees, may hope banning personal statements across the board will keep conflict at bay. But they must consider the legal ramifications of restricting certain forms of expression, and the cost of bad publicity and poor employee morale, the Tribune notes.

“This is definitely a challenge employers are going to face, if not now it is likely they will face it in future,”  Lauren Novak, an attorney with Schiff Hardin in Chicago who represents employers in labor and employment cases, told the news outlet.

.In the Chicago suburbs, a Costco employee told the Tribune that she wore a Black Lives Matter mask to work after hearing about managers making racially insensitive comments to other employees at the warehouse. After working two shifts with the mask, the employee was called into a manager’s office in late June and told to stop wearing it because it was “political,” “controversial” and “disruptive,” the employee told the Tribune.

In a silent protest in the days that followed, the employee, who is Black, said she arrived at work wearing the mask, made sure people were watching, and flipped it inside out upon clocking in.

“For so long we have been taught that we cannot speak out against an unjust system that affects every aspect of our life,” said the employee, who has worked at Costco for more than a decade and asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. “We are supposed to shut up and take it.”

Cellphone photos of Costco’s employee handbook that the employee provided to the Tribune show its dress code says only that employees must be “neat, clean and professional.” People identifying themselves as Costco employees have posted pictures of themselves on Facebook wearing attire at work that celebrates LGBTQ pride.

Costco declined a request from The Chicago Tribune to comment or answer a list of written questions.

Last week, the Chicago-area employee said she was given permission to wear a mask depicting a raised fist as long as it doesn’t include words. The employee plans to make more such masks to distribute to co-workers who want them.

Private employers have the right to regulate what employees wear to work. But restricting some forms of expression could risk violating labor or employment law.

Employers should consider whether employees are wearing Black Lives Matter masks to protest racially discriminatory working conditions, which could be considered protected, concerted activity under the National Labor Relations Act, Novak said.

Employers also could face allegations of discrimination or creating a hostile work environment if the dress code policy isn’t consistently enforced and disadvantages people based on race or another protected class, said Fern Trevino, an employment lawyer in Chicago who represents workers.

They could run into issues if attire celebrating LGBTQ pride is permitted but Black Lives Matter is not.

“Employers should inform employees of the dress code policy in writing and should assure the policy is consistently and equitably enforced,” Trevino said.

Some companies have responded to public pressure—and some have not.

Taco Bell apologized after an Ohio employee who declined to remove his Black Lives Matter mask was fired from a franchised restaurant, saying “we believe the Black Lives Matter movement is a human rights issue and not a political one.” The fast-food chain told USA Today that it doesn’t prohibit the wearing of such masks and is working to clarify its policies.

However, Whole Foods says that “in order to operate in a customer-focused environment,” employees must comply with its long-standing dress code prohibiting clothing with visible slogans, messages, logos or advertising that are not company-related. It provides face masks to employees if theirs don’t comply.

Whole Foods, which sent home two New Hampshire employees for wearing Black Lives Matter and “I Can’t Breathe” masks, has seen protests in Massachusetts, Philadelphia and Seattle over the issue.

A central concern for employers is that allowing employees to wear Black Lives Matter apparel will provoke other employees to don All Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter—or other potentially divisive slogans, Novak said.

It’s a “woke” world we’re living in now: Employers will have to decide whether they will take a stance against those viewpoints, she said.

Research contact: @chicagotribune

40,000 healthcare workers nationwide volunteer for the front lines of New York City’s COVID-19 battle

April 1, 2020

As New York City struggles mightily to get ahead of the swiftly spreading coronavirus pandemic, makeshift hospitals are going up and volunteer healthcare workers—as many as 40,000, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo—are arriving from less-beset areas nationwide to help ease the burden.

Indeed, even as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo put out a call for more supplies and personnel, on Friday, a fleet of healthcare workers from Atlanta came to the rescue, CBS News reported.

More than a dozen health care professionals boarded a Southwest Airlines flight to New Yorkthe airline announced on Instagram, sharing a photo from the plane.

Some of the hands were gloved but everyone in the photo had one thing in common—they all were smiling. Southwest said that the photo “embodies it all: bravery, courage, and sacrifice.”

“These brave souls soldier on in the midst of tremendous risk and exposure, constantly putting the needs of others above their own,” Southwest wrote. “Their selfless sacrifice is a beacon of light during such a dark time in our world, and no amount of gratitude and praise would ever be enough.”

“Because of their courage, our family, our friends, our coworkers, our neighbors, and more have a fighting chance,” the post continued.

And that Southwest flight full of healthcare workers is just a fraction of the additional 40,000 doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and other medical professionals who have signed up to join the health care force in New York. Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this figure on March 25, saying mental health professionals also are volunteering to provide free counseling CBS noted.

“That’s a big, big deal,” Cuomo said

Indeed, the healthcare professionals on the front lines of this battle have faced several challenges, including a lack of personal protective equipment and the risk of contracting the virus themselves.

In addition, many individuals and companies have thanked health care workers in a number of unique ways. Companies like Crocs, Starbucks and Krispy Kreme have announced they will give free goods to healthcare workers during this time.

And some people are thanking workers by sending food to hospitals. Last week Bill and Hillary Clinton, who are residents of Chappaqua, New York, sent more than 400 pizzas to employees at every hospital in Westchester County, New York, to thank them for their tireless effort.

At 7 p.m. each day, New York’s quarantined population goes to windows, open doors, and balconies to applaud and demonstrate their thanks to the medical community.

Research contact: @CBSNews

Democratic opposition research already is dogging Howard Schultz

February 4, 2019

Since Howard Schultz announced his presidential aspirations on 60 Minutes in late January, Democrats have gone into panic mode—fearing that the former Starbucks CEO will filch votes from their column in the 2020 election.

According to a February 1 report by The Daily Beast, American Bridge, a progressive super PAC that focuses on opposition research, already has compiled its first “oppo” hit against Schultz, who would run as an Independent candidate.

Indeed, the news outlet says, the PAC pitched its reporters on a story about Schultz’s charitable foundation—suggesting that “he uses it to minimize his personal tax bill even as the foundation spends lavishly on executive compensation and overhead.”

The group’s oppo pitch against Schultz piggybacks off of reporting by Fox Business that found Schultz gave less than one percent of his fortune to Schultz Family Foundation during the last fiscal year for which its tax filings are available.

Bridge dug into the foundation’s expenditures and found that it “used its tax-free funding to spend lavishly while Howard Schultz receives tax deductions,” according to a research document the group shared with The Daily Beast. It focused on $400,000 in furniture expenses during fiscal year 2016, and its executive director’s $21,000-per-month salary.

The foundation’s latest annual financial filing discloses that Schultz and his wife, Sherri Kersch Schultz, donated $18 million in the year ending June 2017. The foundation gave out about $7.6 million in grants in that time, and spent just under $2.2 million on operating and administrative expenses, including compensation.

“The country is sick and tired of egomaniacs who think tax policy should be made by and for the rich. Apparently, Howard Schultz didn’t get that memo,” Bridge spokesperson Andrew Bates said in an emailed statement to the news outlet. “The only person who would benefit from a Schultz candidacy is Donald Trump.”

What’s more, The Daily Beast notes, Bridge isn’t the only prominent Democratic super PAC eyeing an offensive against Schultz. Priorities USA Action, a group founded by Bill Burton, one of Schultz’s top consultants, has also threatened to go after him if he declares a presidential candidacy.

We would consider him a target,” the group’s Executive Director Patrick McHugh said last week. “We would do everything we can to ensure that his candidacy is unsuccessful.”

Schultz has said that he will take a few months before deciding whether or not to formally enter the race. But already he’s taken steps that have given off the impression that this is more than just a vanity project—and could constitute a political threat to a Democratic candidate.

Research contact: Lachlan.Markay@thedailybeast.com

It’s open season on pumpkins

August 21, 2018

Orange you glad it’s almost fall? Just as sure as the leaves begin to change color, Americans will start hankering for all things pumpkin spice.

Starbucks first offered its popular the pumpkin spice latte in 2003. But, according to Nielsen, the pumpkin trend really took off during the 2013-14 fall season, when pumpkin products, alone, brought in $361 million in the United States. That represented a 79% uptick from 2011.

At the top of the pumpkin-flavored best-seller list is pie filling; followed by pumpkin-flavored ice cream and coffee. Even pumpkin-infused beer sales have taken off—up by more than 1,500% during the last decade, The Odyssey Online reports.

Now, Refinery 29 has done a survey of the new pumpkin products we’ll all be munching in just a few weeks—among them, the following:

  • Smashmallow Pumpkin Pie: Smashmallow describes its product as “a premium snacking marshmallow made with organic cane sugar and natural ingredients.” Now, the company says, “Our favorite artisanal marshmallow is jumping on the autumn food trend bandwagon with this new organically made pumpkin pie flavor.” Available:Now at Target in-store locations and online. Price$3.79 (per pack).
  • Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Cookie Straws: Not content with its popular pumpkin spice latte, Starbucks has added another season offering to its shelves. The company now makes cookie straws from toasted white chocolate and pumpkin spice-coated wafer cookies. AvailableNow at Starbucks locations nationwide. Price: $6.99 (per 20-pack)
  • Pumpkin Spice Noosa Mates: Noosa started offering its creamy pumpkin yoghurt made from real pumpkin and spices last fall, and this year it is teaming up with granola-maker Purely Elizabeth to add crunchy topping made from white chocolate chips and pumpkin seeds.
    Available:Now at Target and Whole Foods. Price: $2.49 (per cup)
  • Kellogg’s Pumpkin Spice Frosted Flakes: Even Tony the tiger is getting in on the act, with a limited edition pumpkin-spice flavored Frosted Flakes—described as “a bowl of crispy golden cereal coated in caramelized pumpkin, allspice, and ginger flavors. Available: Now at mass retailers and grocery stores nationwide.Price: Price varies upon location.
  • Godiva Pumpkin Spice Truffles: Godiva has taken pumpkin upscale, with individually wrapped milk chocolate truffles filled with creamy pumpkin spice ganache. Available:September 10 at Godiva store locations and online. Price: $4.95-$11.95 (per 10- and 22-piece boxes).
  • Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Flavored Ground Coffee K-Cup Pods:
    If Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Caffé Latte K-Cups from years past were a little too sweet, then its new simpler version of the fall flavor infused with notes of pumpkin, cinnamon, and nutmeg should do the trick.
    Available:Now at Starbucks locations. Price: $9.99-$11.99 (per 10- to 16-packs).
  • Bobo’s Pumpkin Spice Oat Bar: These small-batch oat bars from a family owned, mother-daughter company will be debuting in a brand new sweet pumpkin spice flavor come fall. Available: September online. Price: $29.88 (per 12-pack)

Research contact: @LizButtchin

McDonald’s joins Starbucks in envisioning ‘the last straw’

July 18, 2018

The NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge—launched in March and convened by the Closed Loop Partners—announced on July 17 that McDonald’s is joining Starbucks as a founding member. Together, they have pledged to develop a global recyclable and/or compostable cup solution.

The challenge was started after ecologists realized that, in the USA alone, 500 million straws become unrecyclable waste each year.

McDonald’s is committing $5 million in partnership with Closed Loop Partners to help launch the NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge—bringing the total contributed to $10 million. The Challenge kicks off in September and invites innovators, entrepreneurs, industry experts, and recyclers to submit their ideas for the next generation of recyclable and/or compostable cups. Awardees will receive acceleration funding of up to $1 million based on key milestones. Up to seven of the awardees will enter a six-month accelerator program to help scale their solutions. 

“McDonald’s is committed to using our scale for good to make positive changes that impact our planet and the communities we serve,” said McDonald’s’, SVP and Chief Supply Chain Officer Marion Gross. “We are excited to join Starbucks and Closed Loop to help solve this pressing challenge as collaboration is key to finding a scalable, lasting global solution.”

“We are proud to come together with industry partners like McDonald’s to drive innovative, scalable solutions for cup waste,” said Colleen Chapman, VP of Global Social Impact focused on sustainability for Starbucks. “A better cup will benefit the entire industry and we invite others to join us as we move these efforts forward.”

NextGen builds on years of work in the industry and is a critical step in the development of a global end-to-end solution that will potentially allow the 600 billion cups globally to be diverted from landfills and given a second life.

NextGen is building a robust advisory council including leaders in environmental NGOs including WWF; human-centered design, academic leaders, the paper and plastic industry, recyclers, composters, and municipalities. This council will ensure that the work is grounded in the needs of the entire value chain and the cups make it from shelf to consumer and back through the recovery system to another high value use.

“There has never been a greater need to tackle the ways in which we source and recover materials. McDonald’s participation is a strong step forward in building momentum from major brands to come together and develop innovative approaches to materials waste,” says Erin Simon, director of Sustainability Research and Development (R&D) and Material Science at World Wildlife Fund–U.S. “Working together across the entire value chain of these major companies will allow us to create a comprehensive and lasting solution to this critical conservation challenge.”

“To date we have received more than 1,000 inquiries from companies and individuals interested in participating in the challenge and we anticipate some exciting and impactful proposals,” says Kate Daly, executive director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners. “In our experience investing in circular economy innovation, we find the most successful path to scaling a systems-changing solution is to bring together key players along the entire value chain in a pre-competitive collaboration. This is the type of partnership we need to foster innovative solutions without sacrificing profit. We are working with consortium members to build a robust shared set of technical, performance, and environmental criteria that we will announce later this summer.”

While NextGen intends to work on the entire cup system, including cups, lids and straws, its first challenge will focus on the fiber-based hot and cold cup, as this is the most significant challenge faced by the industry.

Research contact: @K8_Daly

Customers don’t care when a CEO quits or gets canned

March 19, 2018

A prominent CEO’s departure from one of the country’s biggest brands will ripple across the news, sparking lengthy analysis by reporters and talking heads, and often cause a shareholder reaction. But, for the general public, it barely causes an impact on brand perception—confirming that what goes on “under the corporate hood” pretty much stays there, according to findings of a poll by YouGov BrandIndex, released on March 15.

The researchers examined five recent CEO departures from well-known global corporations—General Electric, J. Crew, Lululemon, Starbucks, and Yahoo—to see if there was any notable movement on each of their Buzz scores. Buzz scores are derived daily from asking respondents: “If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?”

In all cases, each brand’s Buzz score either remained unchanged or moved very little in any direction the week after the CEO announcement. This seems to be the case whether a CEO left voluntarily or under more strained circumstances, despite the media circus that can often surround the latter.

Research contact: ted.marzilli@yougov.com