NEW YORK, March 7 (AP) — Howard Schultz has agreed to appear before a U.S. Senate committee that is examining Starbucks’ conduct in the ongoing labor union drive.
Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who chairs the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said Tuesday that Schultz has agreed to testify before the committee on March 29.
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Sanders has been asking Schultz to testify for weeks, but Schultz has previously declined, saying the company’s chief public affairs officer is better equipped to discuss the company’s labor records.
But the committee disagreed and had scheduled a Wednesday vote to subpoena Schultz to force him to testify.
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“I look forward to hearing from Mr. Schultz as to when he intends to end his illegal anti-union activism and begin a fair first contract with the union,” Sanders said in a statement Tuesday.
In a letter to the committee, Starbucks said it looked forward to a “productive dialogue” with the committee.
“We will work to create a greater understanding of our culture and priorities, including our industry-leading benefits offerings and our long-term commitment to supporting the shared success of our more than 450,000 global partners,” wrote Starbucks general counsel Zabrina Jenkins.
Since the end of 2021, at least 290 company-owned U.S. Starbucks stores have voted to unionize.
Workers are demanding better wages, more consistent schedules and safer stores, among other things. Starbucks and the union have yet to reach a contract agreement for any of those stores.
The company has opposed unionization, saying it already offers industry-leading benefits and that its stores work better when it works directly with employees.
The effort has been controversial.
The union group Workers Starbucks United has filed 509 counts of unfair labor practices against Starbucks with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing the company of firing union organizers, spying on workers and taking other actions to impede union activity.
The company has filed 102 charges against the union and says it failed to negotiate in good faith.
Last week, a federal labor judge ruled that the company violated U.S. labor law “hundreds of times” during a union drive in Buffalo, New York.
The judge ordered Starbucks to reinstate the seven fired employees and ordered Schultz to read or be present at the employee rights reading and distribute the audio recording to all Starbucks U.S. employees.
Schultz is the longtime CEO of Starbucks, who has grown the company from a small chain in Seattle to a global coffee powerhouse.
He retired last year as interim CEO following the retirement of Starbucks’ previous CEO.
Laxman Narasimhan, a former PepsiCo executive, will become Starbucks’ new CEO on April 1, but Schultz plans to remain on the company’s board. (Associated Press)
(This is an unedited and auto-generated story from a Syndicated News feed, the content body may not have been modified or edited by LatestLY staff)