Howard Schultz agrees to testify before Senate about Starbucks’ anti-union push that Sen. Bernie Sanders calls ‘illegal’

March 7, 2023, 6:02 PM UTC
Amazon and Stabucks workers, supported by new service economy unions, march through the streets to the private homes of their CEOs.
Andrew Lichtenstein—Corbis/Getty Images

Starbucks’ interim CEO Howard Schultz has agreed to appear before a U.S. Senate committee that is examining the company’s actions amid an ongoing unionization campaign.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent and chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said Tuesday that Schultz has agreed to testify before the committee on March 29.

Sanders had been asking Schultz to testify for several weeks, but Schultz had previously refused. The committee had scheduled a Wednesday vote to subpoena Schultz in an effort to force him to testify.

“I look forward to hearing from Mr. Schultz as to when he intends to end his illegal anti-union activities and begin signing fair first contracts with the unions,” Sanders said Tuesday in a statement.

In a letter to the committee, Starbucks said it looks forward to “productive dialogue” with the committee.

“We will endeavor to provide a deeper understanding of our culture and priorities, including our industry leading benefits offerings and our long-standing commitment to support the shared success of our more than 450,000 global partners,” Starbucks’ Chief Counsel Zabrina Jenkins wrote.

At least 290 company-owned U.S. Starbucks stores have voted to unionize since late 2021. Workers are asking for better pay, more consistent schedules and safer stores, among other things. Starbucks and the union have not yet reached a contract agreement at any of those stores.

The company opposes unionization, saying it already provides industry-leading benefits and its stores function better when it works directly with its employees.

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