Tipping has been a fraught subject many have internally debated at a coffee counter or when picking up a to-go order from a new restaurant.
Speaking from the other side of the counter, one Starbucks barista, Iris Valadez (@Irisvaladez27), said in a video that collecting her weekly $10 in tips felt like a “silly little allowance.” The TikTok, which has gained over 56,000 views as of Friday, showed Valadez, sporting the classic green apron, standing in her store’s back of house. Valadez waved her cash back and forth in slow motion to the tune of Mike WiLL Made-It and Rihanna’s “Pour it Up”: “Pour it up. Pour it up. That’s how we ball out.”
The Daily Dot reached out to Valadez via TikTok and Starbucks via email.
@irisvaladez27 our silly little allowance #starbucks #fypシ ♬ Pour It Up – Mike WiLL Made-It
The San Diego creator’s lighthearted jab at the meager earnings highlights a great cultural debate around tipping in America. Some see tipping as an act that allows companies to underpay their employees, pawning labor costs onto the changeable will of consumers. While others equate the quality of service to the size of a tip. And some always tip.
Only 13% of customers always tip, and 18% sometimes tip coffee baristas, according to a YouGov poll conducted in 2019.
In the comments section of Valadez’s video, users reported a wide spectrum of income earned through tips. Valadez also clarified in the comments section that she doesn’t work a lot of hours, so she gets less money in tips.
“I work at a Hyvee Starbucks, and we get our checks in money order,” one user wrote. “We call them tip checks. 40 hrs, and I be getting like 85$ a week.”
“I work in a non-corporate store, and I make $15-$30 per shift (depending if it was slow),” a second person added. “On a good day $60.”
“When I worked there, upper management kept the bills,” one viewer commented. “The rest of us got change.”
“Then it gets divided by all the workers for the day, and I make a $1 tip everyday,” another commenter shared.
Late last year, in response to union demands, Starbucks began rolling out a credit card tip option. Some of the commenters may have been experiencing the new policy’s benefits. One TikToker claims the new benefit fattened her paychecks by $200.
“At least those credit card tips be like $80 on the check,” one person typed.
However, Starbucks tried to exclude unionized stores from the new perk. Starbucks Workers United fought back. And in March, the National Labor Relations Board sided with the union seeking credit card tipping at all Starbucks stores.
“Lmao the fact that I don’t get credit card tipping because my store is unionized MAKES ME SICK,” a user wrote.
Update 2:19pm CT, May 20, 2023: Andrew Trull, a Starbucks media representative, told the Daily Dot via email that it believes the law prevents the company from introducing the new tipping technology in stores that have unionization activity until it is brought to the bargaining table.