Case Study

Coworker and Allow Visible Tattoos at Starbucks

14,000 Starbucks worker signatures
13% of all Starbucks workers!
5 major campaign wins

ControlShift tools didn't just help us win campaigns, they helped us build a real community of workers. That's the power of a member-generated platform.

Tim Newman

I never thought my petition on would be signed by so many baristas around the world and it's great that when we come together, we can make our company better.

Kristie Williams, Starbucks worker & Coworker member

The Problem

Starbucks workers wanted to improve their working conditions, but it's hard to make the corporate office sit up and pay attention. To make real change, workers from different stores in different states need to come together, but they had no easy way of finding each other and sharing their concerns. Until now.

The Solution

Using ControlShift tools, Coworker help Starbucks workers around the world come together, build community, and fight for real change. Coworker started organizing Starbucks workers, and empowering them to start their own campaigns for better pay and conditions. Their first campaign was around scheduling, and it received the support of hundreds of Starbucks workers. Coworker then encouraged those workers who'd signed up to start their own campaigns, helping build a lasting network of mobilized workers ready to fight for change.

The Outcome

Like millions of people, Kristie Williams, a (former) Starbucks worker in Georgia, has tattoos, including on her arms. But thanks to the restrictive Starbucks dress code, which didn't permit visible tattoos, she had to keep her arms covered all day, even in the heat of summer. Kristie wanted to change this, so when Coworker emailed their community of Starbucks workers to solicit campaign ideas, she knew what to do. Not long after launching her campaign, it went absolutely viral! More than 25,000 people signed the petition, including thousands of Starbucks workers, and it received news coverage from major national outlets including CNN and USA Today.

Many of those workers then started their own campaigns, and Coworker now has a community of over 43,000 Starbucks baristas around the world -- over 14 percent of the entire global Starbucks workforce! And they've clocked up some very impressive wins. Thanks to campaigns on Coworker's ControlShift platform:

  • Starbucks workers can now have visible tattoos!
  • The dress code was changed to allow hair to be dyed “an unnatural colour.”
  • Workers - men and women alike - who start families get parental leave.
  • Locations in high-need areas have been given safe needle disposal boxes.
  • And recently, Starbucks appointed a C-Suite “Chief Partner Officer” to respond directly to the needs of workers. There's no doubt that this appointment was a direct response to the worker organizing that Coworker led.

And as news spread that Starbucks workers could use ControlShift tools to make change, workers at other companies started their own campaigns too. Workers at sandwich outlet Jimmy Johns won the right to have tattoos, and workers at grocery chain Publix are now allowed to have beards -- thanks to their campaigns in conjunction with Coworker!

Whether you're looking to source new campaign ideas, clock up real wins, empower your members, or build a lasting community within a specific constituency -- or all of the above -- ControlShift is here to help.

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