Now, Philly baristas are sharing their salaries and benefits in a crowdsourced spreadsheet in an effort to increase transparency and solidarity among coffee shop workers. They’re also getting customers to think about the working conditions behind many of the locally owned cafes that have contributed to the city’s increasingly hip landscape — one that has attracted millennials at a higher rate than ever before.
Nearly 100 workers have contributed to the spreadsheet, which was launched two weeks ago. They share how much they get in tips each day (anywhere from nothing to $100). Several say they are on food stamps or Medicaid. A few say they’ve gotten tendinitis from the job.
The shops with the lowest wages that are listed at least three times on the spreadsheet pay $8 to $9 an hour; those are La Colombe, Saxbys, and OCF Coffee House. Starbucks pays the most ($12 an hour or more), according to the four entries on the spreadsheet.
The barista who initiated the document was inspired by the museum workers’ spreadsheet, started in the summer by a Philadelphia Museum of Art curator. The barista, who has worked in coffee shops for more than three years and spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution at work, said it’s not been part of the workplace culture to talk about wages or working conditions, but after the spreadsheet was launched, a coworker approached the barista, and said, “They started me at $1.25/hour more. You should ask for a raise.”
The Inquirer sought to verify information with coffee shops that were listed at least four times on the spreadsheet. ReAnimator Coffee confirmed the wages listed ($9.50 to $11.25 an hour). Ultimo Coffee also confirmed the rates listed ($10.25 to $13 an hour), though said that anyone who started working in 2016 should be making more than $10.25 an hour. In a statement, La Colombe said that “including tips, most baristas are earning at least $16 an hour, and often much more.” Rival Bros. said its base pay is $10 an hour and no barista is making less than that. That is consistent with 10 of 11 entries listed.
Saxbys and OCF did not respond to a request for comment. Konditori Coffee owner Per Johan disputed the entry in the spreadsheet that said tips were not given to employees.
The spreadsheet comes at a time when service workers around the country have been struggling for — and sometimes winning — more rights. Fast-food workers organized in the “Fight for $15,” which has led to cities and states across the country raising their minimum wages to $15 an hour. In Philadelphia, retail, fast-food, and hotel workers fought for more predictable schedules in the form of a “Fair Workweek” law, which the city will roll out in January.
It also comes at a time when young people are growing more conscious of labor rights and organizing as a way to improve working conditions. Journalists at new media outlets including BuzzFeed, Vice Media, and Vox Media have been forming unions and have been vocal about the process on social media, raising the profile of organizing and casting it in a positive light. And with such tools as Twitter and Google Docs, it’s easier than ever to share wage and benefit information with the protection of anonymity.