Stephen Nessen, Reporter, WNYC News
Stephen Nessen reports for the WNYC Newsroom and can often be heard live on Morning Edition.
New York's highest court is hearing arguments Tuesday about whether Starbucks baristas must share their tips with shift supervisors and assistant managers.
Liberté Locke, 31, has been a barista for seven years and is an organizer with the Industrial Workers of the World Starbucks Workers Union. She works at a Starbucks on Astor Place and said the lawsuit is just pitting workers against workers.
"Baristas in general are aiming their hatred at each other and other workers on the shop floor instead of to the company," she said.
She said tips are pooled and averages about 30 cents an hour per worker at her location. The maximum hourly wage for a barista in Manhattan is $12.45, according to Locke.
The New York Court of Appeals is interpreting New York's labor law and its definition of an employer's "agent," which is someone that is prohibited from tip sharing, like an assistant manager.
Starbucks says its tipping policy ensures that those serving customers "share equally in the tips they receive."