OPINION: Caught off guard, demoted by Starbucks

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By Maria Odenbaugh

Starbucks let me down.

Before I could set my bag down, get prepared for the shift to come, or even clock in, I was informed by my boss that I was demoted. After a year of working to become a shift supervisor, I was told I had to be demoted back down to a barista role because Starbucks hired too many shift supervisors. 

It’s been a year and a half since I joined the company. 

A year and a half of committing to a company that has always supported me in continuing my Starbucks career.

I am an employee of a multi-billion dollar company. I know the resources, benefits and advantages they have. Management told an 18-year-old me that they had my back. I bought in. I was eager to be part of a company who took care of its employees. But the more I got comfortable and felt I was an important factor on my team, that slowly faded away. The irony is that as I grew to love my job, the company seemed to start undermining me.

I always wonder if my personality and work skills will mesh with my superiors when new management comes in. 

 It’s impossible to be heard because they see you as just one  of half a million employees. 

 It was an incredible feeling knowing I earned my role when I was promoted to shift supervisor. I knew my experience as a barista would give me advantages. However, not once did I think I would  be demoted. 

In April I heard cuts had to be made at each store. Heard is the key word.

Rumors flowed between the partners. 

I started hearing things like: “It should be this person. Who would be chosen and why?”  

Before my boss could announce it in the quarterly shift supervisor meeting, it spread like wildfire to every partner. Working that week was scary and it was apparent my name was in the rumor mill.

I was hired and promoted with the knowledge that I was a full-time community college student and my availability to work was five days a week.

The main reason my boss gave me is that I was the next person to leave. This is true. 

I planned on transferring stores as a supervisor because I am transferring to a university. I never intended to leave the company.

 I work hard to support myself, I need the money. I feel defeated and like I wasted my time.

I’ve given my opinion before on Starbucks union busting, but I never thought Starbucks would undermine my store or me. I was wrong.

My demotion put me in a spot where I no longer feel supported or comfortable working at Starbucks. This was a hard concept for me to wrap my head around.

I had so much care and love for my job. The love I had for the people, the moments connecting with strangers and knowing I was part of a company that believed in the same ideals I did, were all taken away in a five-minute unprofessional conversation.

I’ve had several people ask me why I care so much about my job and that I could easily go find another. 

Sure, I can easily find another job with my experience but I couldn’t walk away even after this embarrassment. I put too much effort into this job. My effort was thrown out like the old espresso grounds every hour.

Starbucks promised me a role with better pay, opportunities and set hours. But what did I need to promise back? Complete loyalty. 

I vividly remember my interview. I stated I would always choose school over my job. They knew school was my top priority but now that has been used against me. With my record being free of any corrective actions, write-ups or any actions to make my boss worry about me, I can’t help but think this decision was completely based on my decision to move. 

Starbucks’ 2023 new mission statement and promises were released the same week these cuts were made: “Our partner promise: Bridge to a better future.” 

This promise does not apply to all partners, if anything Starbucks destroyed my bridge for a better future as a partner.

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