Florida: Students demand justice for Aramark Starbucks workers
Tallahassee, FL – On February 2, around 80 Florida State University (FSU) students, representing FSU Against Aramark, FSU Students for a Democratic Society, FSUDems, and JStreet, marched across campus from Strozier Library to Dirac Library protesting Starbucks working conditions and standing in solidarity with Aramark workers on campus.
Aramark, a multibillion-dollar corporation, is known for consistently underpaying its workers at universities around the country. The protest, spearheaded by FSU Against Aramark, was the culmination of a three-day boycott of all campus Starbucks locations. The essence of this struggle is that, while campus Starbucks workers are expected to perform like corporate Starbucks workers, they are given none of the same benefits. Campus Starbucks are not owned by Starbucks themselves – instead Aramark pays Starbucks for the branding and recipes, meaning there are discrepancies in benefits between the two types of stores.
“Starbucks corporate committed to $15 an hour this summer. Why does Aramark refuse to do the same for employees at FSU?” asked Marci Lofaso, one of the main organizers of FSU Against Aramark.
This is not an issue unique to campus Starbucks locations. All of the campus food service workers are employed by Aramark and are victims of the same insufficient pay. “It is time we as a student body say no to [Aramark’s] reign!” demanded Evan Livingston, another organizer with FSU Against Aramark.
FSU Against Aramark is demanding that campus Starbucks workers be treated equally with corporate Starbucks workers. This means instituting a $15 minimum wage; sick pay for COVID-19; two weeks of formal training, and providing KN95 masks to all workers. All of these benefits would put campus Starbucks workers in line with their corporate coworkers.
The Aramark CEO makes $27 million a year, putting their CEO-to-worker pay ratio at 1712:1 (five times higher than the national average). While these demands are for Starbucks specifically, FSU Against Aramark believes all campus workers deserve increased wages and sufficient COVID protections.
Accounts from Aramark workers on campus clearly demonstrate the need for change. One worker detailed how Aramark underpaid them for “months” and said possibilities of backpay were “impossible and unattainable.” Another worker told how they were injured “by a tomato slicer” and “bled everywhere in the kitchen for around 30 minutes.” Since there was no manager on duty, the worker had to reach out to another Aramark branch to administer first aid and relieve their shift. Finally, an additional account detailed how campus Starbucks refused to hire them because of their disability, possibly violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not trying to accommodate the worker. According to the corporate Starbucks website, “Partners with disabilities find a welcoming community at Starbucks,” but that seemingly does not apply to stores on FSU’s campus.
These are just some of the accounts of the conditions FSU campus workers are going through. Solidarity between students and workers is essential, especially for growing the labor movement post-graduation.
Campus workers “need our solidarity so that they can stand up and fight back,” Lofaso asserted.
FSU Students for a Democratic Society is dedicated to building the labor movement both on campus and in the community.
Dare to struggle, Dare to win!