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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Politics

Schultz denies Starbucks broke labor laws in union negotiations

Mar 29, 2023

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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was criticized by Senate Democrats at a hearing to examine the company’s efforts to prevent unions from forming at its stores. It came during a Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) hearing in which Democrats tried to paint the coffee company as a greedy “union buster,” while Republicans praised the company, calling it generous and an example of capitalism at its finest. 

Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., focused on 80 complaints from the National Labor Relations Board that accuse the company of breaking federal labor law. Sanders said there are 500 unfair labor practice charges lodged against the company, including firing employees who were trying to form a union. They are also accused of purposely delaying negotiations with employees who have already voted to unionize.

“What is outrageous to me is not only Starbucks’ anti-union activities, their willingness to break the law. It is their calculated and intentional efforts to stall, stall and stall,” Sanders told Schultz.

“Sir Starbucks Coffee Company unequivocally, and let me set the tone for this very early on, has not broken the law” Schultz responded.

Schultz said his company is committed to good faith negotiations with workers. He said Starbucks has the best compensation and benefits of any similar retail company and they invest a majority of their profits back into the business.

“We respect their right and want to treat everyone with respect and dignity. However, I have the right and the company has the right to have a preference. And our preference is to maintain the direct relationship we’ve had with our employees that we call partners,” Schultz said.

Republicans praised Schultz and Starbucks for their benefits package, which includes parental leave, 401(k) and stock options, and up to 100% tuition coverage for a bachelor’s degree.

“Starbucks didn’t do all this under orders from a government bureau, they did it because capitalism works,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., said. 

“Of course, there’s the old irony, which is you got to a Mormon non-coffee drinker conservative defending a coffee company CEO, who ran for president as a Democrat,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah., said.

The committee also heard testimony from an employee who claimed he was once fired for trying to form a union, and a lawyer who says the National Labor Relations Board tried to tip the scales at Starbucks in favor of unions, despite a mandate to remain neutral.

Although the committee heard hours of testimony both for and against the company, nobody gave an indication it will actually lead to changes at Starbucks or new legislation.

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Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz was roasted by Senate Democrats at a hearing to examine the company’s efforts to prevent unions from forming at its stores. 

Senator Bernie Sanders focused on 80 complaints from the National Labor Relations Board that accuse the company of breaking federal labor law. Sanders said there are 500 unfair labor practice charges lodged against the company, including firing employees who were trying to form a union. They are also accused of purposely delaying negotiations with employees who have already voted to unionize. 

 

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt: “What is outrageous to me is not only Starbucks’ anti-union activities, their willingness to break the law. It is their calculated and intentional efforts stall to stall to stall.”

Howard Schultz: “Sir Starbucks Coffee Company unequivocally and let me set the tone for this very early on has not broken the law.”

 

Schultz said his company is committed to good faith negotiations with workers. He said Starbucks has the best compensation and benefits of any similar retail company and they invest a majority of their profits back into the business. 

 

Howard Schultz: “We respect their right and want to treat everyone with respect and dignity. However, I have the right and the company has the right to have a preference. And our preference is to maintain the direct relationship we’ve had with our employees that we call partners.”

Republicans praised Schultz and Starbucks for their benefits packages, which includes parental leave, 401k and stock options, and up to 100 percent tuition coverage for a bachelor’s degree. 

 

Sen. Rand Paul: ““Starbucks didn’t do all this under orders from a government bureau, they did it because capitalism works.” 

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah: “Of course, there’s the old irony, which is you got to a Mormon non coffee drinker conservative defending a coffee company CEO, who ran for president as a Democrat.”

 

The committee also heard testimony from an employee who claimed he was fired for trying to form a union, and a lawyer who says the National Labor Relations Board tried to tip the scales at Starbucks in favor of unions, despite a mandate to remain neutral. But although the committee heard alot of testimony for and against the company, nobody gave an indication it will actually lead to changes at Starbucks or new legislation. Straight from DC, I’m Ray Bogan.