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Readers rally for Austin barista after Gawker rebukes her work woes

Readers rally for Austin barista after Gawker rebukes her work woes

Austin photo: Event_Starbucks Gawker_Barista
An image of the north Austin Starbucks from the barista.

Working people of the world: If you're looking to vent frustrations about your workplace, don't turn to Gawker.

An Austin area barista (who chose to remain anonymous until her two weeks notice is up) got a harsh reminder Monday that the internet is not always our friend. The Starbucks employee sent a letter to the online gossip sheet expressing her frustrations about the unfair treatment of the workers at her North Austin location, one of the busiest drive-thru stores in the country.

The barista states in her letter that Gawker posted in full: "The employees are consistently being pushed further away from the forefront of anyone's mind." The management of the store in question one day last week took away the employees' break room without provocation. This Starbucks has a conference room for the occasional regional meeting, but the day-to-day workers don't have a square table in the back room to eat their lunch in private.

 What occupies the majority of the discussion is an airing of readers' own grievances about their own work situations. From paramedics to waitresses to fellow baristas, everyone has reason to complain about their work. 

Employees were told by management that "any complaints would be ignored," so the barista, who is also a graduate student in New Media Journalism, did what any true believer in the internet would do: She shared her feelings with the public.

After penning a heartfelt letter addressing her concerns on Facebook, she sent the letter to Gawker hoping to raise awareness of the unfair treatment of fast food workers like the baristas at her Starbucks. The letter concludes: "We aren't trying to overthrow the company, we just want a place to eat during our two 10 minute breaks and one unpaid half hour lunch. And we could use a voice if you're interested."

"I wrote the letter because I felt helpless. I was blocked by management from talking to their bosses," the barista told us. "I had no intention of taking it to the press, but I figured, 'Why not send it? They probably won't do anything with it anyway.'"

But much to her surprise, Gawker editor A.J. Daulerio reprinted the letter under the mocking headline "Barista Uprise: Starbucks Is 'Not the Company I Thought It Was,' Says Entitled Coffee Drone." Daulerio provides a sarcastic lead paragraph (one of the site's trademarks) to address the barista's concerns, ending with a reference to her submitted snapshot of "this coffee shop where she gets paid to serve coffee."

After Daulerio's post, hundreds of comments have spilled in from Gawker readers, both in support of the barista's request and of Daulerio's criticism of it. What occupies the majority of the discussion is an airing of readers' own grievances about their own work situations. From paramedics to waitresses to fellow baristas, everyone has reason to complain about their work. Perhaps this barista's post provided the necessary valve to begin releasing steam publicly.

"In an age where the working class finally seem to be finding a voice, with the Occupy movement, etc., it's just such a shame to see a publication like Gawker not take the side of the working class," said the barista.

What do y'all think: Is a Starbucks employee showing entitlement by asking for help? Or should she just be happy she has a job in the first place?