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Starbucks shift supervisors seek pay raise

Shift supervisors at local Starbucks cafes are demanding a pay raise after a recent Massachusetts court decision banned them from sharing in baristas’ tips.

The IWW Starbucks Workers Union said Friday it sent a petition to the Seattle-based coffee chain signed by more than 300 local Starbucks employees and supporters asking the company to compensate the shift supervisors for a “de facto pay cut.”

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In November, a US Court of Appeals panel in Boston upheld a lower court ruling that found Starbucks Corp. owes Massachusetts baristas more than $14 million for violating state laws preventing supervisors from sharing in tips pools.

As a result, income for about 400 Massachusetts Starbucks supervisors could shrink by 10 to 20 percent, pushing supervisors’ pay “below the Boston living wage,” according to the union.

In a press release, the IWW union — which stands for Industrial Workers of the World — said Starbucks told local supervisors in December that they would no longer be allowed to share in tips, starting Jan. 7. Starbucks, which objected to the November court decision, on Friday said it is taking steps to ensure that supervisors will continue to be “fairly rewarded for their work.”

Jaime Riley, a Starbucks spokeswoman, said the business is devising a new operations structure for company-owned Massachusetts cafes that will seek to address the issues of supervisors, or “partners,” as Starbucks calls them.

“The new store structure will ensure that our hard-working partners will continue to be fairly rewarded for their work and that customers will continue to have a world class experience each time they visit one of our stores,” Riley wrote in an e-mail.

The union claims a supervisor’s job does not differ much from that of a barista: both are charged with making lattes and other drinks. But supervisors, with a starting hourly pay of $11, also perform such tasks as counting cash and scheduling breaks.

Now that supervisors are no longer allowed to share in tips, the union contends they could potentially make less than some baristas who have more than two years on the job.

Jenn Abelson of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
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