Philly Barista: Starbucks Retaliating Against Unionized Staff By Blocking Tips

A customer makes a purchase at a Starbucks coffee shop,in Philadelphia, Monday, April 26, 2021. Employees at three more Starbucks stores in suburban Buffalo, N.Y., have voted to form unions, bringing to six the number of unionized Starbucks shops and further advancing organizing efforts underway in at least two dozen states. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

By Sean Kitchen

September 12, 2023

“They’re taking our digital tipping away. They’re refusing to allow credit card tipping for unionized stores, which is taking money directly out of our pockets,” said Amanda Kindler, a Starbucks Workers United member.

Starbucks, the corporate coffee chain, uses a number of anti-union tactics against workers and stores who are organizing a union, and the same goes for the stores who already formed a union. One of their tactics has been taking credit card tips away from those shops.

Leaving tips on credit card transactions was one of the first demands Starbucks employees made when organizing their union, Starbucks Workers United, in August 2021. The company implemented credit card tipping the following year, but only to non-union stores.

According to their website, Starbucks Workers United has unionized over 350 stores with 8,500 union partners. In Pennsylvania, the union has successfully organized 24 stores.

Amanda Kindler, a barista at a unionized Starbucks in Philadelphia and member of the Starbucks Workers United, explained to The Keystone at the Philadelphia Labor Day parade how the company is retaliating against unionized shops.

“We’re being actively retaliated against by the company for organizing,” said Kindler.

“They’re taking our digital tipping away. They’re refusing to allow credit card tipping for unionized stores, which is taking money directly out of our pockets.”


How far is Starbucks taking their union busting tactics? Starbucks Workers United member Amanda Kindler explains how Starbucks took digital tipping away from their unionized store. Kindler, who works as a barista at a Philadelphia Starbucks, stated that this is taking money directly out of the pockets of unionized workers and that the company has met them with union busting tactics from the beginning of their organizing campaign. Kindler and other members from Starbucks Workers United were sitting near the stage for Monday’s Labor Day rally in Philadelphia with President Joe Biden. Biden spoke in front of hundreds of union Philadelphia area union members prior to Monday’s Tri-State AFL-CIO Labor Day Parade. ✏️ : Sean Kitchen #LaborDay #HappyLaborDay #Unions #1u #OneUnion #HotUnionSummer #Philadelphia #Philly #Biden #JoeBiden #215 #Pennsylvania #PAPolitics #starbucksworkersunited #starbucks

♬ original sound – Keystone Newsroom – Keystone Newsroom

In March, More Perfect Union reported that Starbucks violated federal labor laws after excluding unionized stores from collecting credit card tips. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) supported the unionized employees and was seeking to have Starbucks provide credit card tipping at all stores and compensate workers for the tips they lost during that period.

“Through their efforts to stop workers from having a real voice in the company, Starbucks has become the worst offender of federal labor law in modern U.S history with 200+ violations and counting. But the Coffee Giant is not getting away with it,” a Starbucks Workers United representative said in a statement.

“The labor movement, allied organizations, and students are all joining the fight to help us win the contract that workers deserve. In both the court of public opinion and the court of law, Starbucks is beginning to pay a price for their actions.”



  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

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