Starbucks' new dress code for 2022 continues debate over union stores

Eve Edwards August 30, 2022
Starbucks' new dress code for 2022 continues debate over union stores
Photo credit should read CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images


There’s a new dress code for Starbucks employees rolling out this August 2022 and the internet has a lot to say about the updated policy.

On August 29, 2022, Starbucks employees shared the news online their dress code was being altered. More casual attire is now permitted, meaning baristas across the US won’t be caught in the all-black ensembles they’ve sported for years.

However, the new dress code will be implemented only in non-union Starbucks stores. It has prompted a wave of debate online about the new policy.

Let’s take a look at what the new dress code entails.

Starbucks rolls out a new dress code for 2022

Photo Illustration by Giannis Alexopoulos/NurPhoto via Getty Images

On August 29, 2022, the official Starbucks Partners Instagram account shared news they are introducing a new dress code.

The Starbucks Partners (employees) account is to share with Starbucks workers the latest updates and stories from the company.

In an Instagram Story on August 29, the company announced the new dress code. It is as follows: “Expanded colors palette for tops, more comfortable clothing options, and more apron sizes! (Coming soon)”.

Three Starbucks employees are featured in the video. One wearing a pink t-shirt, another wearing a relaxed forest green crew neck, and another wearing a white t-shirt. The short Instagram Story concludes with the three holding the signature green aprons in a variety of sizes. One Starbucks partner shared a full update of the dress code on Twitter which you can read here.

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Employees joke about what the updated dress code means to them

With muted patterns and a range of colors now permitted for Starbucks partners to wear, a number of employees shared their thoughts on their work wardrobe.

One Starbucks employee jokingly tweeted: “Me being excited about Starbucks expanding its dress code like I’m not still gonna be wearing all black”.

Another former employee tweeted: “Of course it’s only one week after I finish working at Starbucks that they expand the dress code to accept any color… I had the same 5 shirts on rotation all summer for it to mean nothing.”

Only non-union employees will reap benefits of new dress code

Shortly after the new dress code was announced, it circulated that only non-union Starbucks stores would have the new policy in place.

One Starbucks employee shared the reported dress code policy update to Twitter. In this document, there is a note at the end of the dress code which claims:

“The expanded color options and changes to crewneck sweatshirts, jeggings and white shoes will not apply to stores with union representation or union organizing activity on or before May 3. Federal labor laws prohibit Starbucks from making unilateral changes in stores with representation. Instead, the law requires that we bargain over any and all changes or improvements to terms and conditions of employment.”

This has frustrated some Starbucks partners, who have expressed their disappointment online. One Starbucks partner working at a unionized store tweeted: “As a plus-sized person working at Starbucks, the least I can say is I’m disappointed”.

Another alleged in a Twitter post: “Cannot believe Starbucks is so petty that they’ll withhold the most MINIMAL dress code update from organizing stores”.

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About the unionization of Starbucks

Photo credit should read CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Over the past year, Starbucks has seen a wave of unionization in its stores across the country. It began in Buffalo, New York, where workers at two stores voted to unionize as Starbucks Workers United in December 2021.

There has been much push and pull between Starbucks and its partners as the unionization wave gains momentum. According to the union, Starbucks is strongly opposed to these efforts to unionize at Starbucks stores. The Seattle-based coffee company even created a website, called We Are One Starbucks, which discourages their partners from voting for unionization.

More than 200 of Starbucks’ estimated 9,000 locations in the United States have voted to unionize, as reported by CNBC.

Starbucks new uniform will allow people to ‘show up and be themselves’

The company has explained the expanded color palette – with no restrictions for shirts – allows partners more options to “show up and be themselves”. Although shirts still must adhere to rules on no large logos, typography, graphics and remain a muted pattern.

Starbucks has also confirmed to The Focus that by early October, stores will be able to order aprons between sizes XS and XL.

It further explained: “Under federal law, when union organizing is underway or a union representation election has been requested, it is unlawful to change wages, benefits or working conditions in that work location.

“Additionally, federal law dictates that the mandatory subjects of bargaining include wages, hours, benefits and other terms and conditions of employment, therefore a company cannot unilaterally implement changes in stores that have a certified union representation.”

However, a spokesperson further confirmed that size-inclusive aprons are coming to all stores. As it doesn’t “constitute a new or different benefit” under unions for federal law.

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Eve spends her days writing about everything culture-related. From celebrity news to music, film and television, Eve covers all bases. When she’s not writing you can find her making music or mastering the art of homemade pasta.