Liberte Locke, a 32-year-old "barista" at a Starbucks (SBUX) in New York City, is fed up.
"Starbucks' attitude is that there's always someone else who can do the job," she said in running through her complaints about life at the java giant.
If that isn't necessarily the consensus among Starbucks workers, interviews with nine current and former baristas at the company make clear it's not an isolated opinion, either. Even those who say they like their job paint a picture of a business that underpays front-line workers, enforces work rules arbitrarily, and too often fails to strike a balance between corporate goals and employee needs.
Of course, such complaints are nothing new in retail, where low pay and erratic schedules are the norm. But by its own account, Starbucks is no ordinary company and is ostensibly a far cry from the fast-food outlets now facing a nationwide uprising by employees tired of working for peanuts.
That's evident in the company's recruitment pitch. Starbucks invites job-seekers to "become a part of something bigger and inspire positive change in the world," describing it as a chance to discover a "deep sense of purpose."