On Tuesday, Starbucks agreed to have founder and interim CEO Howard Schultz testify earlier than a Senate committee chaired by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, ending a weekslong dispute between the left-wing politician and the Seattle-based international espresso big.
Sanders chairs the Senate Committee on Well being, Training, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), and intends to carry hearings on massive firms who in Sanders’s telling routinely violate federal labor regulation by resisting workers’ efforts to unionize. Starbucks is one in every of a number of chains whose shops have been focused by union campaigns lately as service employees demand greater pay and higher working circumstances. Whereas many Starbucks places have held profitable union votes, together with some in Seattle, the chain has been harshly criticized for retaliating in opposition to pro-union employees (or “companions,” to make use of the corporate’s inner lingo). Final week a federal choose dominated that Starbucks had violated labor regulation “a whole lot of instances” throughout a union drive at a Buffalo, New York retailer.
Sanders, who has accused Starbucks of “company greed,” has made getting Schultz in entrance of the committee (and its TV cameras) a precedence since he took over the chairship of the HELP committee earlier this yr. Starbucks has resisted the demand and as a substitute provided to have totally different executives testify in Schultz’s stead, particularly chief public affairs officer AJ Jones II, who the firm mentioned was higher suited to reply questions on labor practices at Starbucks. The corporate additionally maintains that for the reason that firm founder is transitioning out of his CEO position this month, it doesn’t make sense to have him testify.
However Sanders, maybe looking for to get testimony from a extra well-known govt who would generate extra headlines, insisted on the founder and was ready to maintain a vote on Wednesday to subpoena Schultz and drive him to testify. On Tuesday, Starbucks introduced that Schultz would testify earlier than the committee in any case. “We’ll endeavor to offer a deeper understanding of our tradition and priorities, together with our business main advantages choices,” Starbucks basic counsel Zabrina Jenkins wrote in a letter to Sanders.
The listening to, scheduled for March 29, will doubtless be combative. “I stay up for listening to from Mr. Schultz as to when he intends to finish his unlawful anti-union actions and start signing truthful first contracts with the unions,” Sanders mentioned in an announcement.