WASHINGTON, Feb. 15 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, today issued the following statement after Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz refused to appear in front of the committee to testify about his company’s long-running noncompliance with federal labor law:
“It is disappointing, but not surprising, that Howard Schultz, the CEO and director of Starbucks has declined an invitation from a majority of members on the HELP Committee to testify at a U.S. Senate hearing to answer why the National Labor Relations Board has lodged over 75 complaints against Starbucks for violating federal labor laws. Apparently, it is easier for Mr. Schultz to fire workers who are exercising their constitutional right to form unions, and to intimidate others who may be interested in joining a union than to answer questions from elected officials. If Mr. Schultz believes that a multi-billion dollar corporation like Starbucks can break federal labor law with impunity he is mistaken. As the Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, I intend to hold Mr. Schultz and Starbucks accountable for their unacceptable behavior and look forward to seeing him before our committee.”
Before the February invitation, extended to Schultz by Sanders and every Democratic member of the HELP Committee, 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 in the most recent letter Sanders sent in January 2023.
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.