Starbucks TikTok account branded “partner” as anti-union propaganda

A TikTok account called Starbucks Partners (@starbuckspartners) is being branded a “propaganda” social media channel after a video showing employees at the coffee chain preparing for a busy day at work went viral.

Starbucks refers to its employees as “partners” and lists numerous benefits and incentives offered to its employees on its official company website. Many of these benefits are also explained in various clips on the company’s official TikTok account.

The sixteen second clip shows a worker coming out of the kitchen and stocking the store shelves while happy electronic music plays.

@starbuckspartners On your marks, get set, peak time. Let’s go! 💪 #ToBeAPartner #Starbucks #DayInTheLife ♬ Original sound – Starbucks partner

In the video, a series of encouraging text overlays populate the screen, making positive comments about the day-to-day activities of Starbucks employees.

“Time to prepare for the climax!” The first caption reads as a smiling worker appears on camera. “1. Stock…2. Stretch,” the clip then cuts to footage of employees stretching in the kitchen area while looking at the camera. “3. Take a shot of nitro!” All the workers stand behind the counter, holding small cups of nitro cold brew coffee. They cheer their cups together before taking their respective sips.

Viewers who saw the clip had several different reactions. Some baristas working for the Seattle-based brand called the video “fake news” because they don’t have enough time to engage in these activities before a peak or “rush” time. Others noted that in view of customers, the chain’s workers are not allowed to drink drinks behind the counter.

“We’re not preparing, we’re just crying,” wrote one user.

“Do you really think we actually have time to prepare before the climax begins? That’s funny,” shared a second.

“Can’t drink behind the bar,” claimed a third.

Others questioned the validity of the Starbucks Partners account, saying the content posted was intended to distract people from the fact that many of the company’s workers are attempting to unionize.

“Definitely unionize Starbucks!” wrote one viewer.

“I wish all Starbucks had that much time, but they are understaffed and their employees are not trained. #unionize,” argued another.

“Which number on the list is unionized?” a third asked.

Some claimed that they lacked the time to adequately prepare due to staff shortages. While there are still a number of different industries suffering from labor shortages in 2022, it is the food service and hospitality businesses that have been hit the hardest post-COVID. Many employees have expressed that they are overworked and as a result are facing higher levels of stress at work as they are forced to get more work done than ever before.

“Everything but adequate staffing and manpower,” commented one user.

“There’s no time for any of that in my business,” claimed another viewer.

“Yeah, only if we got enough coverage to even do anything about it lol,” laughed a third.

The issue of unionizing Starbucks employees has been a hot topic of conversation when it comes to labor in the United States. According to Statistics and Data, Starbucks is the third largest fast food chain in the world with 20,859 stores worldwide (as of 2019). Macrotrends writes that in 2020 Starbucks employed no fewer than 349,000 people in the US alone.

Perfect Union has also documented the spread of Starbucks-centric unions across the country, noting that 327 stores in 37 different states have already filed union elections. To date, 244 different shops have won their union elections. The first location to do so was in Buffalo, NY, and franchises in Cleveland, Ohio, Cambridge, Mass., Richmond, Virginia, Independence, Mo., Portland, Oregon, and many others have followed suit. In several locations, voting victories were unanimous, but there were several stores that unions have rejected outright, while other decisions are pending.

The Daily Dot has contacted Starbucks Partners’ TikTok account via comment and Starbucks PR via email for more information.


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*Initial publication: September 30, 2022 at 12:11 p.m. CDT

Jack Alban

Jack Alban is a freelance journalist for the Daily Dot, covering trending human interest/social media stories and real people’s reactions to them. He always tries to incorporate evidence-based studies, current events, and relevant facts to those stories to create your not-so-average viral post.

Jack Alban Starbucks TikTok account branded “partner” as anti-union propaganda

Jaclyn Diaz

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