Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has agreed to testify before a US Senate committee about the company's approach to labor relations and unionization.
The move came just a day before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), was scheduled to vote on issuing a subpoena to Schultz.
An invitation to Schultz to appear before the committee previously had been declined, with the company saying that because Schultz scheduled to step down from the CEO job in just a few weeks, it made more sense for someone else to testify. But Sanders observed that because Schultz has taken the lead in framing the company's response to unionization efforts, he was best positioned to answer the committee's questions.
The Seattle Times writes that "Starbucks, long considered a model employer, has been facing a growing union campaign movement since November 2021. Schultz has described unions as a third party that will divide the company and its workers. At least 285 stores have successfully unionized. There are 509 unfair labor practice charges against Starbucks and 102 against the union, Starbucks Workers United."
Schultz's appearance is scheduled for Wednesday, March 29.
- KC's View:
This is going to must-see TV. I'm not sure how much light will be shed on the subject, but I suspect there will be plenty of heat. At least there will be lots of entertainment value.
I do hope for some light, of course. A nuanced conversation about the role of organized labor in 2023, and how companies that price themselves on having progressive cultures should cope with unionization, obviously is timely. Let's hope expectations are exceeded.