Skip to content

NEWS: Sanders Announces HELP Committee Vote on Subpoena for Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

Committee Will Also Vote to Authorize Investigation Into Major Corporations’ Labor Practices

WASHINGTON, March 1 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, on Wednesday announced that next week the committee will hold a vote on issuing a subpoena for Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to provide testimony about his company’s lack of compliance with federal labor law and to authorize a committee investigation into major corporations’ labor law violations.

“While Howard Schultz is a multi-billionaire who runs a very profitable multi-national corporation, he must understand that he and his company are not above the law,” Sanders said. “The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has filed over 75 complaints against Starbuck for violating federal labor law and there have been over 500 unfair labor practice charges lodged against his company. These violations include the illegal firing of more than a dozen Starbucks workers. For nearly a year, I and many of my colleagues in the Senate have repeatedly asked Mr. Schultz to respect the constitutional right of workers at Starbucks to form a union and to stop violating federal labor laws. Mr. Schultz has failed to respond to those requests. He has denied meeting and document requests, skirted congressional oversight attempts, and refused to answer any of the serious questions we have asked. Unfortunately, Mr. Schultz has given us no choice, but to subpoena him. A multi-billion dollar corporation like Starbucks cannot continue to break federal labor law with impunity. The time has come to hold Starbucks and Mr. Schultz accountable.”

The subpoena and investigation votes will take place during an executive session of the committee on March 8 at 10 a.m. ET and will be followed by a hearing on defending the constitutional right of workers to organize a union and collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, and working conditions. It will feature AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, and Teamsters President Sean O’Brien.

Last month, Starbucks declined an invitation from Sanders and every Democratic member of the HELP Committee for Schultz to testify about his violation of federal labor law. Before the February invitation, Sanders had sent three letters to Schultz in the last year calling on the CEO to end the egregious union-busting campaign the company has deployed against its own workers. The company has yet to provide the documents requested by Sanders and his colleagues.

Since the first store voted to unionize in December of 2021 in Buffalo, workers at more than 350 Starbucks in nearly 40 states across the country have held votes to unionize, citing various concerns – from safer working conditions during the pandemic and better wages, to better benefits and more reliable schedules. Despite those efforts, as a result of Starbucks union busting campaign, there has not been one union contract signed.