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Starbucks is anti-bicycle

The following is a story that was broke by Jonathan Maus of bikeportland.org . Unfortunately due to high traffic created by the story or perhaps corporate heavy handedness (hackers and/or lawyers) his hosting service has suspended his account.
--Starbucks employee says his manager discouraged bike use-- 30 year-old Northeast Portland resident Fabian Mills used to manage the Starbucks store on 102nd and Halsey near the Gateway Transit Center. Back in August he rode his bike to a district meeting and got a surprising reaction from his new district manager, Frances Ericson. Here's how it went down according to Mills: Four days after this conversation took place Ericson transferred Mills to a new store in Troutdale at 257th and Stark. Mills was unhappy with the decision because the transfer would add 16 miles to his daily bike commute. When Mills expressed his disappointment with the move, Ericson allegedly said, "you should just get over riding your bike." According to Mills, Ericson claims she moved him because of his poor job performance but Mills doesn't buy that reasoning because in his 2 1/2 years with the company, he never once had a bad performance review and profits were up at his store. Mills filed a formal complaint with the human resources and business ethics departments, but he's not convinced the issue was ever taken very seriously. Mills doesn't feel the company was tough enough on his former manager and he's worried that she'll continue to discourage bike use, Right now she manages eight stores, soon she could manage 110 stores...will her views continue as she moves up? Mills won't be around to find out. He found the official response to his complaint so lackluster that he decided to resign and has since moved on (he now works for Bank of America). I was surprised someone so high up at Starbucks would make these comments, especially given that one of Starbucks' own guiding principles is to, "Contribute positively to our communities and our environment." I decided to contact Ericson about her alleged remarks. She said it is against company policy to speak to any media directly and she referred me to a marketing person. I eventually ended up with an email from regional director Michelle Cain. Citing privacy concerns, she refused to address any of my questions about Fabian Mills. If Ericson did indeed say these things, this is a very unfortunate situation. Managers in influential positions (especially in large companies) should encourage bicycle use among their employees, not discourage it. Over 6,000 Portlanders from 550 companies took part in the BTA's recent Bike Commute Challenge. Starbucks did not participate. ============= Here is the Response form Starbucks (which Jonathan received after getting a call from their Director of Corporate Communications 72 hours after my initial post had spread around the Internet) : "Recently, comments were made online about an incident which occurred between a Starbucks district manager and store manager Fabian Mills in Portland, Ore. regarding his bicycling to work. The portrayal of this exchange as presented by Mr. Mills in this online article is false. The concerns raised by the district manager were regarding Mr. Mills' arriving late to a meeting and being disheveled in appearance, not about his riding a bicycle to work. Starbucks has a long history of supporting alternative transportation commute options for our partners (employees). Starbucks encourages partners to use alternative transportation; in fact, in 2005, 29 percent of our partners at the Starbucks Support Center in Seattle participated in alternative commute programs, including bicycling to work. Additionally, Starbucks was the title sponsor of the Seattle Bike to Work Day 2006 in May. Starbucks hosts a Biking Club as part of Partner Connections, a program designed to encourage partners to participate in activities outside of the everyday work environment. This Biking Club also encourages partners to ride their bicycles to work. In Oregon, Starbucks is a regular sponsor of Providence Bridge Pedal, Portland's annual community cycling event. Starbucks has also worked with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) to encourage and reward residents who cycle as an alternative means of transportation, including Starbucks partners."

homepage: homepage: http://www.bikeportland.org/


Sorry ... here is better formatting 23.Oct.2006 22:33

Jasun Wurster


30 year-old Northeast Portland resident Fabian Mills used to manage the Starbucks store on 102nd and Halsey near the Gateway Transit Center.

Back in August he rode his bike to a district meeting and got a surprising reaction from his new district manager, Frances Ericson. Here's how it went down according to Mills:

Four days after this conversation took place Ericson transferred Mills to a new store in Troutdale at 257th and Stark. Mills was unhappy with the decision because the transfer would add 16 miles to his daily bike commute.

When Mills expressed his disappointment with the move, Ericson allegedly said, "you should just get over riding your bike."

According to Mills, Ericson claims she moved him because of his poor job performance but Mills doesn't buy that reasoning because in his 2 1/2 years with the company, he never once had a bad performance review and profits were up at his store.

Mills filed a formal complaint with the human resources and business ethics departments, but he's not convinced the issue was ever taken very seriously. Mills doesn't feel the company was tough enough on his former manager and he's worried that she'll continue to discourage bike use,

Right now she manages eight stores, soon she could manage 110 stores...will her views continue as she moves up?

Mills won't be around to find out. He found the official response to his complaint so lackluster that he decided to resign and has since moved on (he now works for Bank of America).

I was surprised someone so high up at Starbucks would make these comments, especially given that one of Starbucks' own guiding principles is to, "Contribute positively to our communities and our environment."

I decided to contact Ericson about her alleged remarks. She said it is against company policy to speak to any media directly and she referred me to a marketing person. I eventually ended up with an email from regional director Michelle Cain. Citing privacy concerns, she refused to address any of my questions about Fabian Mills.

If Ericson did indeed say these things, this is a very unfortunate situation. Managers in influential positions (especially in large companies) should encourage bicycle use among their employees, not discourage it. Over 6,000 Portlanders from 550 companies took part in the BTA's recent Bike Commute Challenge. Starbucks did not participate.


Here is the Response form Starbucks (which Jonathan received after getting a call from their Director of Corporate Communications 72 hours after his initial post had spread around the Internet) :

"Recently, comments were made online about an incident which occurred between a Starbucks district manager and store manager Fabian Mills in Portland, Ore. regarding his bicycling to work. The portrayal of this exchange as presented by Mr. Mills in this online article is false. The concerns raised by the district manager were regarding Mr. Mills' arriving late to a meeting and being disheveled in appearance, not about his riding a bicycle to work.

Starbucks has a long history of supporting alternative transportation commute options for our partners (employees). Starbucks encourages partners to use alternative transportation; in fact, in 2005, 29 percent of our partners at the Starbucks Support Center in Seattle participated in alternative commute programs, including bicycling to work. Additionally, Starbucks was the title sponsor of the Seattle Bike to Work Day 2006 in May.

Starbucks hosts a Biking Club as part of Partner Connections, a program designed to encourage partners to participate in activities outside of the everyday work environment. This Biking Club also encourages partners to ride their bicycles to work.

In Oregon, Starbucks is a regular sponsor of Providence Bridge Pedal, Portland's annual community cycling event. Starbucks has also worked with the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) to encourage and reward residents who cycle as an alternative means of transportation, including Starbucks partners."


other companies too 24.Oct.2006 10:26

evolution

i used to be a manager at blockbuster video and their official policy is that a manager cannot ride a bike to work because it is not reliable (mainly for bringing the deposit to the bank in the mornings). they prefer that managers have cars. HOWEVER, our district manager in the portland region was willing to promote us and let us ride bikes anyway, so long as we didn't bring the deposit to the bank by bike. i know of at least three of us in the region that were managers and rode our bikes to work. blockbuster is by no means a great company...in fact, i don't like them very much at all...but, in that case, our district manager made all the difference.

No shit! 25.Oct.2006 02:27

Pinky Sislowski

Of course Starbucks is anti-bicycle, what a surprise?!!

Yer pal,

Pinks

Uh, question... 25.Oct.2006 18:51

maker

Do these deposits include cash and currency? (For the security of the employees, I do not want an explicit answer to this question.) Rather my question really is: do these companies actually put their employees at risk by having them personally take the cash to the bank rather than use armored car service? If so, then these companies really are cheap-skate assholes.

bikeportland.org now up and running again 25.Oct.2006 22:06

CaptainPlanet

The bikeportland.org site is now bigger and badder, or at least now has the bandwidth capability for the ever-increasing traffic to the site. Here are the two articles about Starbucks and Fabian, lots of interesting comments.

 link to bikeportland.org

 http://bikeportland.org/2006/10/20/starbucks-responds-to-anti-bike-allegations/

corporate cheapness 29.Oct.2006 22:12

anonymous

all corporate retail-type jobs make their employees or managers drop the cash and check deposits at the bank. every retail job i've held, from starbucks to radio shack, made us drive the deposits to the bank daily. yeah, they're cheap. i worry often, as i don't work in the nicest of neighborhoods.

Verification of Fabian MIlls' Comments 30.Oct.2006 16:36

A Gateway Starbucks Employee

I stumbled across this article and was shocked at what I read. I worked for Fabian Mills at Gateway Starbucks for almost a year and was very impressed by his environmental consideration and by the fact that he would almost always ride his bike to work. I was working the day he came back from the district meeting very depressed and upset by the reaction he received from Frances. He expressed his frustration that she had suggested he NOT ride his bike to any meetings in the future. A couple of weeks later he was moved to another location and the only reason given to me by management was that he had made the choice to move to another store in the district. I have been with the company for many years and it seems to me that Starbucks is really losing touch with five out of six of its guiding principals. The only one that seems to matter is the last (profitability is essential to our success). I believe that if Fabian wanted to make this into a law suit he would have firm ground to stand on!