Ex-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz testified throughout a much-anticipated listening to led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) on Wednesday, parroting what gave the impression to be blatant lies concerning the firm’s fierce anti-union marketing campaign and a whole bunch of labor regulation violations over the previous yr and a half.
For the roughly two hours that Schultz was within the hot seat before Sander’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, he stubbornly defended a number of factors concerning the firm’s dealing with of its employees and their union marketing campaign: First, that Starbucks provides a complete advantages package deal to staff. (Employees have mentioned that their lack of advantages leaves them struggling to outlive.) And second, that the corporate has been comparatively pleasant to the union. (The corporate has repeatedly tampered with union elections and refused to cut price with unionized shops.)
Third, and maybe most egregiously, the three-time CEO insisted that the corporate has by no means as soon as damaged labor legal guidelines throughout its anti-union marketing campaign — a declare that each one proof signifies is an unabashed lie.
On the final level, Schultz declared his stance early on. Straight after Sanders delivered his opening assertion, the senator fired off a collection of questions on the corporate’s anti-union marketing campaign, which he labeled the “probably the most aggressive and unlawful union-busting marketing campaign within the fashionable historical past of our nation.”
“Are you conscious that [National Labor Relations Board] judges have dominated that Starbucks violated federal labor regulation over 100 occasions throughout the previous 18 months, excess of every other company in America?” he asked.
“Sir, Starbucks Espresso Firm, unequivocally — let me set the tone for this very early on — has not damaged the regulation,” Schultz mentioned, in an assertion he would echo quite a few occasions all through the listening to.
However Starbucks has damaged the regulation repeatedly, in response to the union, labor board officers, a number of NLRB administrative law judges who resolve and settle unfair labor observe prices, and two federal judges to this point. A few of these choices are pending enchantment by Starbucks; as of this week, there are over 70 circumstances earlier than NLRB judges ready to be heard, in response to the labor board. By Starbucks Employees United’s rely, the labor board has discovered over 1,400 violations from the corporate to this point.
These choices are removed from trivial. Most just lately, an NLRB decide discovered that the corporate had violated federal labor legal guidelines a whole bunch of occasions simply in Buffalo, the place the union motion started, implementing a “reign of coercion” that resulted in “egregious and widespread misconduct” in opposition to employees, the decide wrote.
Through the listening to, Schultz dismissed this choice as “allegations,” prompting Sanders to remind him that it’s unlawful to lie whereas testifying beneath oath. “Mr. Schultz, earlier than answering the next questions, let me remind you that federal regulation, 18 U.S. Code Section 1001, prohibits knowingly and willfully making any fraudulent assertion,” he mentioned.
“I perceive that,” Schultz responded, earlier than claiming that he has by no means been concerned in a call to fireside any of the a whole bunch of pro-union employees which were terminated by the corporate.
Labor advocates instantly disputed Schultz’s declare that Starbucks’s authorized document is clear. Starbucks Workers United noted on Twitter that the assertion elicited laughter from the many Starbucks employees who attended the listening to, and several workers and organizers mentioned that his testimony was full of lies or mistruths. One Democratic senator mentioned that Schultz saying that Starbucks had by no means damaged the regulation was akin to somebody with 100 rushing tickets saying they’d by no means violated site visitors legal guidelines.
“That might not be a plausible rivalry,” mentioned Sen. Chris Murphy (Connecticut). “So I discover it laborious to imagine your insistence that, not withstanding this extraordinary set of selections — reinstating employees, forcing shops to be reopened — that you’re, the truth is, constantly abiding by the regulation.”
Maybe anticipating that the ex-CEO would insist that Starbucks has by no means damaged the regulation, Democrats on the HELP Committee released a report on Monday debunking “myths” perpetuated by the corporate. Within the 13-page doc with dozens of citations, the lawmakers laid out a litany of actions from the corporate debunking its claims.
“MYTH: Starbucks has not been present in violation of any regulation as a result of they haven’t exhausted all of their appeals in federal courts, as much as and together with the Supreme Courtroom,” the report reads. “FACT: This can be a deliberate try by Starbucks to delay a primary contract for union employees.”
Later within the listening to, Schultz accused Starbucks employees and the union of mendacity about their experiences with the corporate. For example, Schultz bristled after Sen. Patty Murray (D-Washington) mentioned that her Starbucks employee constituents have raised points with the corporate denying advantages to unionized employees, because the NLRB has decided the corporate has illegally performed.
“I do take offense, I’ve to confess as a result of it’s fairly private, whenever you deliver up issues that you simply heard that aren’t true,” Schultz responded. “We’ve got by no means, ever taken any profit away, and we by no means would, of anybody who was occupied with becoming a member of a union. We merely have mentioned that, beneath the regulation, our understanding is that we didn’t have the suitable to offer incremental advantages throughout the bargaining course of.” (This argument, which is favored by anti-union attorneys, has been debunked by labor specialists and officials.)
Schultz additionally appeared indignant when Sanders introduced up the truth that the NLRB has accused Schultz of personally breaking labor legal guidelines when he reportedly informed a pro-union employee in a gathering final yr, “Should you hate Starbucks a lot, why don’t you’re employed some place else?”
“I’ve learn within the press that quote, and that’s not precisely what I mentioned,” Schultz mentioned.
He later tried to make clear: “In a gathering in Lengthy Seaside, a Starbucks associate was attempting to interrupt the assembly and begin speaking concerning the union…. I simply turned to her, and I mentioned, ‘for those who don’t like the corporate, for those who hate the corporate, you possibly can work some place else,’” he mentioned. “I didn’t know I used to be being filmed. I simply merely mentioned, ‘for those who hate the corporate, you’ll be able to go work some place else.’”
Towards the top of his testimony, Schultz appeared to take challenge even with the corporate’s personal written insurance policies. When Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico) raised the company’s policy that part-time employees should work roughly 20 hours every week to be eligible for sure advantages, as half of a bigger concern about Starbucks chopping hours, Schultz mentioned, “I’m undecided that’s appropriate, sir. I’d must get again to you, I’m undecided that’s appropriate.”
“I don’t wish to ask one among your attorneys,” Luján responded. “I imagine that to be true. I see quite a lot of head nodding from staff behind you.” From then till the top of Schultz’s time earlier than the committee, the ex-CEO denied that employees’ hours have been reduce throughout the board — although the union found final yr that employees have been reporting cuts and the NLRB has reinforced some of those findings.
Shortly after Luján’s questioning, Schultz’s time within the highlight was over. A number of Starbucks employees have been set as much as testify, and the corporate representatives Starbucks dropped at the listening to stood up and left.
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