In a highly anticipated hearing on the company’s labor policies, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Howard Schultz will square off, and the former Starbucks CEO plans to defend the company’s labor policies against criticism.
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, which Sanders, an independent from Vermont, chairs, will hear testimony from Schultz during a hearing with the overtly provocative title “No Business Is Above the Law: The Need to Stop Illegal Union Busting.”
It follows weeks of disagreements between the Sanders-led panel and Starbucks, which tried in vain to get Schultz’s evidence excluded from the panel because he departed the organization on March 20. Sanders refused, and Schultz ultimately consented to testify when a subpoena was issued.
The hearing will include the following at its 10 a.m. ET start time.Republicans on the committee, such as senior member Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, who earlier stated he would not support a subpoena to compel Schultz to testify, might be more accommodating to Schultz.
According to written testimony provided to NBC News, Schultz would inform Congress that the business “operated in good faith” and “complied with the National Labor Relations Act.Starbucks respects the right of all partners to make their own decisions about union representation, and Starbucks is committed to good faith collective bargaining for every business where there is a union. I accept these obligations,” Schultz will say. (Starbucks uses the term “partner” to refer to its employees).
He adds that Starbucks “has arranged more than 350 negotiation sessions with more than 200 negotiation rounds – each relating to a single deal – and Starbucks representatives were physically present at more than 85 negotiation rounds.”
“However, union officials have wrongly called for negotiations across several branches, delayed or refused to attend meetings and insisted on unlawful requirements including ‘virtual’ negotiations and the participation of outside observers,” the former CEO will say, according to the prepared remarks.
Sanders, a two-time Democratic presidential runner-up who has built a brand as a labor advocate, has shown keen interest in Starbucks and Schultz.
Sanders will pressure Schultz over how Starbucks has handled unionization. Stefani Reynolds / AFP – Getty Images file
According to a recent report by Democratic-majority HELP committee staff, “Under Schultz’s leadership, Starbucks has become the most aggressively anti-union company in America.”
It said the National Labor Relations Board “has filed over 80 complaints against Starbucks for violating federal labor laws and has filed over 500 charges of unfair labor practices against that company. the crime of exercising their right to form a union and collectively negotiate better wages, benefits and working conditions.”