Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has agreed to testify in a U.S. Senate hearing about the company’s labor practices after previously denying to appear.
- Schultz is scheduled to appear at a March 29 hearing to discuss the numerous Starbucks chains that have unionized.
- As of this week, 290 Starbucks locations have voted to unionize, according to National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) data.
- The NLRB has filed more than 80 complaints against the company for violating federal labor laws, including allegations of retaliatory firings and store closures.
- Starbucks has fired back at the union, filing more than 100 of its own complaints, alleging intimidation and harassment—and reciting the many benefits it provides.
Why it’s news
Starting in 2021, there has been a unionization movement within the famous coffee shop as employees ask for a change in scheduling practices and freedom from unfair dismissal and discipline.
Nearly 300 Starbucks locations have voted to unionize to fire back at what they consider poor treatment. Some employees claim to have been fired for trying to unionize. Starbucks also began raising wages and improving benefits for non-union workers.
None of the nearly 300 stores attempting to unionize have yet reached a contractual agreement with Starbucks.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee invited Schultz to appear in February to discuss Starbucks pushing back against employees attempting to unionize, but he declined. The committee then subpoenaed him, to which he agreed and will appear in court at the end of this month.
“In America, workers have the constitutional right to organize unions and engage in collective bargaining to improve their wages and working conditions. Unfortunately, Starbucks, under Mr. Schultz’s leadership, has done everything possible to prevent that from happening,” says committee chair Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
Schultz is set to step down as interim CEO with newcomer Laxman Narasimhan to take over in April 2023, but in the time Schultz has been CEO after taking the position in April 2022, Starbucks has taken a more aggressive approach in its opposition to the union push causing the Senate to want to speak with him and not the incoming head of the company.
″Schultz will remain on the board, he is the CEO today, and he would be the CEO when we invited him … it is clear to everybody that it is Mr. Schultz who sets the policy of that company,” says Senator Sanders.
Starbucks has stated since the first request for Schultz to appear in court that the company is open to communicate with both the Senate and employees regarding its longstanding efforts to create opportunities for employees and to address questions related to current labor union activity.
The company argues that it has always provided for its employees by giving competitive wages, health care, free college tuition, and other benefits and that employees do not need to file a union in order to receive those benefits.