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Taylor Place Starbucks loses staff to management issues

Between 15 and 18 employees quit from the Aramark-operated Taylor Place Starbucks last semester

Imani Randle

ASU students walk pass the Taylor Place Starbucks on the ASU Downtown campus on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018.

Near the end of last semester, between 15 and 18 student employees quit their jobs at the Taylor Place Starbucks due to poor management and communication, according to five former and three current employees.

About 30 students worked at this Starbucks location last semester, and approximately half of the employees returned this semester.

ASU contracts with Aramark, a food service company, to operate dining venues on campus. 

Journalism freshman TaMeia Murphy was one of the baristas who quit at the Aramark-operated Starbucks at Taylor Place. She said she felt overwhelmed when the store did not have enough staff to attend to the high volume of customers.

“The thought (of quitting) first occurred when I heard our manager was quitting, but when I learned many other people were following suit, I decided I would rather not work at all than work there,” Murphy said. “Upper management needs to take more consideration in the hiring and training process.”

The State Press reached out to 15 former and current Taylor Place Starbucks employees and formally interviewed eight current and former employees. Three of the students interviewed were current employees and were granted anonymity in the story to protect their jobs.

When asked for comment, Aramark released a statement saying the company respects the privacy of its employees and cannot speak to specific instances regarding the high turnover.

"We are committed to the personal growth and development of the students we employ at Arizona State University and the many internship and career development opportunities we offer to current ASU students and graduates," the statement said.

Aramark declined a request for interview and sent another statement with general information about the roles of the employees.

The store had a general manager who had his hiring, firing and scheduling powers revoked by his Aramark superiors, Murphy and other current and former Starbucks employees said.

ASU Starbucks locations are among the most popular in the state, according to Patricia Jimenez, Aramark’s senior human resources manager at ASU. 

Madison LaBerge, a journalism sophomore and one of the students who quit last semester, said she quickly went from loving her job to dreading it.

"It went from being one of the most fun places that you could ever work at to being a place that I was dreading every morning coming in," she said. "It was draining on my body, and no one was happy working here anymore.”

Baristas often had to open and close the store by themselves, which is something that managers typically do, as well as their usual job of taking orders and keeping customers happy, LaBerge said.

She said she and other student employees voiced their concerns about issues like being understaffed and not receiving Starbucks' corporate benefits. 

As a barista, LaBerge said she had to perform three to four jobs at once and was called to work even when she had class because of the lack of staffing and organization.

Three supervisors left in the fall semester. One was fired for using crude language toward another employee, one quit and one moved to a Tempe campus location, several former employees said.

Supervisors and baristas from the Tempe campus are temporarily covering shifts to address the short staffing, three current employees said. 

Wendy Falcon, a student transferring to ASU in the fall who quit on Jan. 5, said she would have stayed if Aramark had hired more employees so she wouldn’t have to fill more roles than she was hired for.

"If a job isn't worth it, you shouldn't stick around to wait to see what happens,” Falcon said. “If you feel you're being muted or not treated like human being because you're a fast food worker, then you should just leave.”

Editor's note: A previous draft of this article was temporarily published prior to completion on Jan. 22, 2018. Additional reporting has been added since then.

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