Should Starbucks baristas get the same maternity leave benefits as corporate employees?
Two coffee shop workers, and the 80,000 people who signed their petition, think so. Baristas and other retail workers are slated to get six weeks of paid maternity leave. Corporate workers will soon get 18 weeks.
Baristas Jessica Svabinek and Kristen Picciolo met with Starbucks Vice President of Global Benefits Tuesday, who agreed to hear the women's concerns.
Picciolo brought her infant son, Adam.
"They're so new to the world," she said, holding her baby before heading into the meeting. "They just want their mom or their dads. They need their parents."
Picciolo said she took 12 weeks off without pay after she had Adam. At the time, she did not work the minimum 20 hours per week the company required for six weeks of maternity leave at 67 percent of average pay.
Starbucks notes that's more than many in the retail industry offer. And the company plans to expand those benefits.
Starting October 1, birth mothers who work at least 20 hours a week on Starbucks' retail side will be eligible for six weeks of full paid leave.
However, the same policy will give corporate employees 18 weeks of paid leave.
"I feel that the work I do every day, when I touch our customers personally, is just as important as the work that they do," said Svabinek, who is due to have a baby in July. "And our babies deserve the same time with us, working at the retail level as the corporate employees babies do.
In a statement, Starbucks pointed out, "Our current and now expanded parental leave benefits exceed what most retailers provide full- or part-time workers."
Other benefits include "affordable health insurance, a tuition-free college degree program, equity in the form of stock, and more," the company said.