(Washington) The outgoing boss of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, emblematic figure of the rise of the American coffee chain, defended Wednesday, during a hearing in the United States Senate, his anti-union approach within the group and refuted charges of labor violations.
Since December 2021 and the formation of the first union in three branches of the group in Buffalo (northeastern United States), Starbucks has been the subject of an organizing movement of hundreds of employees.
According to the Starbucks Workers United union, nearly 300 coffees followed, which concerns about 7,000 employees of the company based in Seattle (northwest).
At the beginning of March, an administrative judge found Starbucks guilty of multiple breaches of labor laws, which were part, according to the magistrate, of an approach aimed at preventing the organization of the group’s employees into a union.
According to the judge, the company fired workers for campaigning for unionization, threatened others, and dangled various benefits for those who voted against forming a union.
The magistrate notably ordered Howard Schultz to record a filmed message in which he would recall the rights enjoyed by employees in terms of unionization.
Hearing on Wednesday by the Senate Committee on Social Affairs (HELP), the man who ceded his chair as general manager to Laxman Narasimhan only a few days ago indicated that he would not comply with this decision, “because Starbucks does not didn’t break the law.”
The group has appealed or indicated its intention to do so for each decision handed down against it in this case, none of them being, therefore, final as it stands.
“We respect the law” and the right of company employees to form a union, but “we prefer to maintain the direct relationship we have with our associates,” said Howard Schultz, who no longer has an operational role, but retains a seat on the board of directors.
“We treat our employees fairly,” insisted the 60-year-old, who took Starbucks from small local chain to global coffee giant. “We’re not doing anything outrageous. We manage with care for our employees and we have the service records to prove it. »
Howard Schultz also accused the Labor Law Enforcement Bureau (NLRB), on which administrative judge Michael Rosas, who made the decision concerning Starbucks, depends in early March.