Sanders: Senate panel to vote on subpoena for Starbucks CEO

Interim CEO Howard Schultz (left) speaks during Starbucks Investor Day 2022 on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear/Susan Walsh) Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) (right). talks with reporters outside the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will seek to subpoena Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, who has declined to testify on allegations of unlawful anti-union practices at the coffee chain, Sanders said Wednesday.

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which Sanders chairs, will vote on whether to issue the subpoena on March 8. The Democratic-controlled committee will also vote on an investigation into labor law violations by large corporations. 

Sanders said that Schultz has “denied meeting and document requests, skirted congressional oversight attempts, and refused to answer any of the serious questions we have asked” regarding the company’s alleged union busting, including firing more than a dozen Starbucks workers who led organizing campaigns.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Schultz has given us no choice, but to subpoena him,” Sanders said in a statement. “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.” 

Schultz is set to step down as CEO in April but will remain a Starbucks board member. Starbucks offered to have its Chief Public Affairs Officer AJ Jones testify before Sanders’s committee, arguing that he is better suited to answer questions.

“This is a disappointing development, but we will continue our dialogue with Chairman Sanders’s staff and are optimistic that we’ll come to an appropriate resolution. Our response to the Chairman’s initial request still stands,” Starbucks spokesperson Andrew Trull told The Hill.

More than 350 Starbucks stores have voted to form a union since the first store in Buffalo, N.Y., unionized in December 2021. That prompted a wave of organizing at other chains that historically haven’t been unionized. 

Starbucks has sought to crack down on organizing efforts by using tactics deemed unlawful by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The NLRB ruled earlier this month that Starbucks unlawfully threatened and later fired employees who led organizing campaigns at two Philadelphia locations. The board ordered Starbucks to rehire the workers and give them back pay.  

Sanders said that the NLRB has filed more than 75 complaints against Starbucks, and more than 500 unfair labor practice charges have been levied against the popular coffee chain.

Tags CEO howard schultz Starbucks Subpoena Union Union busting

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video