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Union study finds Black Starbucks baristas in airports paid less than whites

Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

Black baristas at airport Starbucks make a median wage of $11.15 an hour, $1.85 less than white baristas, according to a report released Tuesday by the hospitality workers’ union Unite Here.

The union examined 2019 employment data of more than 2,000 unionized workers — 85 percent of whom were people of color, and 35 percent Black women — at 142 stores operated by HMSHost in 27 airports around the country, including in Boston.

In March of 2018, Starbucks announced that it had reached 100 percent pay equity for men, women, and people of color doing similar jobs at its US stores. In May of that year, Starbucks closed more than 8,000 US stores for a day for racial bias training following an incident in which two Black men were arrested at a Starbucks in Philadelphia.

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But according to Unite Here, the airport Starbucks remained open. Nearly a third of workers responding to a Unite Here survey said they had struggled to pay their rent in the past year.

In addition, LGBTQ workers reported being subjected to offensive comments, and one in four immigrants were told to stop speaking their preferred languages at work.

On Thursday, workers plan to leaflet 700 Starbucks stores in 40 cities, including 20 in the Boston area, to raise awareness of the report’s findings. Starbucks referred a request for comment to HMSHost, which could not be reached immediately.


Katie Johnston can be reached at katie.johnston@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.