Bernie Sanders: Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz agrees to testify before Senate HELP committee

Bernie Sanders: Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz agrees to testify before Senate HELP committee

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Washington — Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has agreed to testify to a Senate committee investigating the company’s labor practices ahead of a vote to subpoena him, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said Tuesday.

Democrats on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which Sanders chairs, invited Schultz to testify about the company’s compliance with federal labor laws in a Feb. 7 letternoting that Starbucks has pushed back against its employees unionization efforts. The Senate panel was set to vote Wednesday to subpoena Schultz if he did not willingly agree to testify.

“In America, workers have the constitutional right to organize unions and engage in collective bargaining to improve their wages and working conditions. Unfortunately Starbucks, under Mr. Schultz’s leadership, has done everything possible to prevent that from happening,” Sanders, an independent from Vermont, said in a news release announcing Schultz’s March 29 appearance before the committee.

The National Labor Relations Board has filed more than 80 complaints against Starbucks for violating federal labor laws, Sanders said, accusing the company of refusing to negotiate in good faith with workers in more than 280 Starbucks stores who have voted to unionize.

“I look forward to hearing from Mr. Schultz as to when he intends to end his illegal anti-union activities and begin signing fair first contracts with the unions,” Sanders said.

Last week, Starbucks called the threat a “disappointing development” but said it was “optimistic that we’ll come to an appropriate resolution.” In its response to the committee’s initial invitation, the company said Schultz was not the right person to testify, noting that he would be transitioning out of the role of CEO in March. It offered to make another executive available instead.

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