Baristas push Starbucks for more equitable parental leave

LGBTQ families are among those who suffer because Starbucks store employees don’t get parental leave unless they are a birth mother, say two L.A. baristas who delivered 30,000 signatures to the company.

Niko Walker and Ryan Cervantes, two Starbucks baristas from Los Angeles, say they love working for the company and want to have careers there.

But Starbucks’ new parental leave policy doesn’t love them back, they say, providing no paid leave for store employees who are adoptive parents or spouses of birth mothers. That’s likely to affect them personally in the future, as Walker is transgender male and Cervantes is gay.

“In the next five years, I want to have children,” said Walker, who is 25. “I’m not going to have any benefits aside from personal time. I don’t think that’s fair.”

On Thursday, they delivered petitions, including one with nearly 30,000 signatures, to Starbucks headquarters. They met with Ron Crawford, the company’s vice president of global benefits, who agreed to take part in a conference call to hear how store employees are affected by the policy.

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Earlier this year, Starbucks announced that it would be expanding its parental leave policy starting in October. The expanded benefits give more pay to both store and corporate employees who are birth mothers.

But it’s far more generous to corporate employees. And it offers no paid leave to store employees who are non-birth parents — including fathers, spouses and foster and adoptive parents. (Corporate employees who are not birth mothers, in contrast, can take 12 weeks of leave at 100 percent pay.)

The discrepancy has already drawn fire from baristas who want equal benefits for both corporate and store employees, and also from PL+US, an advocacy organization that pushes for paid leave across the U.S.

Now Walker and Cervantes say the policy is unfair to LGBTQ families as well,…

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