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E-Mail Action: Fortune Magazine, Stop Lying About Starbucks Being a 'Best Company to Work For'

Andrew Serwer
Managing Editor
Fortune Magazine
1 Time Warner Center
New York, NY 10019

January 28, 2008

Dear Mr. Serwer,

I take serious issue with the erroneous information regarding Starbucks in Fortune Magazine's 2008 '100 Best Companies to Work For'. I am especially concerned about the reliability of Fortune given that the IWW Starbucks Workers Union wrote you an open letter before the 2007 '100 Best Companies to Work For' feature that pointed out the very same misinformation which you proceeded to include once again in the 2008 list.

The 2008 'Best Companies to Work For' list claims that the most common hourly job at Starbucks is a mysterious position called "Coordinator III" which takes in $37,390 per year. Once again, the most common hourly job at Starbucks, by far, is a position called "Barista" which likely takes in approximately $12,000 per year on average. The precise average pay for baristas is not known since Starbucks refuses to make that information public.

The fine print of your list states that some of the data is for full-time employees only but does not state that qualification for the figures regarding pay.

Just as in previous years, if you do not set the record straight other media outlets will wrongfully use the "Coordinator III" figure as the average pay for Starbucks' most common hourly worker.

I believe the real problem here is that your 'Best Companies to Work For' list is created by a consulting firm, even arguably a public relations firm, called the 'Great Place to Work Institute' and not a serious research organization. The 'Great Place to Work Institute' uses methodologies which don't even come close to those used in scientific surveys.

Consider the case of Starbucks:

1) 100% of Starbucks hourly retail workers in the United States (baristas, bussers, and shift supervisors) are part-time with no guaranteed number of work hours per week.

2) Starbucks insures only 40.9% of its workforce whereas notorious health-care cheapskate Wal-Mart insures 47%.

3) Starbucks baristas earn a poverty wage in the range of 6, 7, or 8 dollars an hour depending on their location.

4) Starbucks has been hit with several complaints from the National Labor Relations Board for retaliation and discrimination against baristas who have chosen to join a labor union.

Yet despite all of the above, Fortune Magazine, based on shoddy work by the 'Great Place to Work Institute' enables Starbucks to boast to people around the world that it is on your magazine's 'Best Companies to Work For' list.

Please do what you should have done last year and set the record straight. I also urge you to drop the 'Great Place to Work Institute' and engage a serious research organization for Fortune's 'Best Companies to Work For' list. I expect your prompt attention to this matter.