Another Front in the War Against Working People

A lot of people get paid by the hour for the work they do.  Whether they sign in or punch a clock or log onto a computer, the idea is that some means is employed to record how much time they work and then someone adds up the number of hours they worked, multiplies it by their hourly wage, and generates a paycheck, complete with appropriate payroll and tax deductions.

But not all employers have been willing to pay all of their employees for all of the time they work.

Take Starbucks, for example.

Starbucks was in the habit of routinely denying hourly employees their due for the time they spent setting alarms, locking doors, and other such activities. One employee was unhappy enough that he sued Starbucks for what he perceived to be his rightful pay.

And won.

Over Starbucks’ most strenuous objections.

As reported by the Associated Press,

Starbucks said it was disappointed with the ruling. In a brief filed with the California Supreme Court, attorneys for Starbucks said Troester’s argument could lead to “innumerable lawsuits over a few seconds of time.” The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in a court filing also warned of the possibility of “significant liability” to businesses in the state.

The amount of money Mr. Troester sought in his lawsuit was not great: he was seeking his $8 an hour – shame on Starbucks! – for 12 hours and 50 minutes over a period of 17 months, or a total of $102.67.

Starbucks was unhappy about having to pay the money and unhappy that Mr. Troester’s victory would leave it vulnerable to other such claims and other such litigation.  The U.S. Chamber of Commerce backed Starbucks in the suit because, well, because there may not be any organization that hates working people and begrudges them their wages as much as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Starbucks isn’t exactly hurting:  in 2017 it reported sales of $22.4 billion and profits of more than $4 billion.  It’s sitting on such an embarrassingly large pile of cash for which it has no use that it plans to distribute $15 billion of that cash to shareholders over the next three years.  It’s certainly not sharing its success with its employees:  the average salary for a Starbucks store worker is $10.52 an hour.

The Curmudgeon thinks it’s only fair that people making less than eleven dollars an hour get first shot at some of those huge profits, certainly ahead of shareholders, by getting paid for the work they do to help produce those huge profits.



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