Starbucks CEO Schultz May Be Ordered To Testify At US Senate Labour Hearing

By Dave Simpson
Starbucks CEO Schultz May Be Ordered To Testify At US Senate Labour Hearing

US Senator Bernie Sanders on Thursday 2 March refused to back down on calls to make Starbucks Corp interim chief executive officer Howard Schultz, who is stepping down this month, testify at a hearing on the company's compliance with labour law.


Starbucks reiterated on Thursday 2 March it has no plans to send Schultz to a US Senate committee hearing set for 9 March.

In response, Sanders, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee's chairman, said he was "shocked and deeply concerned that Howard Schultz would continue to defy a request made by a majority of members on the Senate HELP Committee."

He said a vote will go ahead on 8 March on whether to issue a subpoena for Schultz to appear.

"Let's be clear. Howard Schultz is the founder of Starbucks, he is the CEO of Starbucks, he is the spokesperson of Starbucks, and he will continue to be on the Board of Directors at Starbucks well into the future," Sanders said in a letter Thursday 2 March to Starbucks.


"Mr. Schultz has made it clear that he is the driving force of labor policy at Starbucks," the Democrat senator said.

Starbucks noted Schultz is stepping down as CEO later this month and said he was not the right witness.

It maintained that its chief communications and public affairs officer, AJ Jones, was best positioned to address the workforce matters raised by members of the committee.

The company has also offered to send May Jensen, vice president for partner and labor relations, and Zabrina Jenkins, acting executive vice president and general counsel.

Democrat lawmakers accuse Starbucks of not engaging in fair negotiations with employees who are joining labor unions. The coffee company has rejected the claims and said it values its workers' right to participate in legal union-related endeavors.


The company said in its letter on Thursday it "has an unmatched history as a model employer."

Employees at more than 280 out of its roughly 9,000 company-operated US locations have voted to join a labor union since 2021. The union is seeking better pay and benefits, improved health and safety conditions and protections against unfair dismissal and discipline.

Additional Information

The Senate committee will also vote on authorising the panel to investigate labour law violations by major corporations.

Read More: ISS Urges Starbucks Shareholders Back Review Of Labour Policies

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