Starbucks Founder Howard Schultz Thumbs His Nose At U.S. Congressional Committee
Starbucks has refused to negotiate a single contract with any of it's 281 employee unions for more than 450 days, a strategy clearly designed to discourage union workers so they give up on the unions.
Note: Reuters reported late Wednesday that Starbucks shareholders had voted to independently assess the corporation’s union practices
A federal judge at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last month declared Starbucks has committed “egregious and widespread” violations of federal labor laws, and ordered the company to pay back pay and damages to workers. Starbucks has also closed stores when it appeared unionization efforts were likely to succeed.
That case included 33 labor complaints from 21 New York Starbucks locations.
Over 500 unfair labor practices have been filed against Starbucks, and the NLRB has filed 80 complaints against the chain. Many involve Starbucks limiting the hours of union organizers, punishing and/or firing them for specious offenses, illegal surveillance of pro-union workers, and giving workers at non-unionized stores greater benefits than workers at unionized stores.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, held a hearing Wednesday of the Senate Committee on Health Education, Labor and Pensions, which he chairs, in which he laid out a compelling case that Starbucks has systematically engaged in “the most aggressive and illegal union-busting campaign in the modern history of our country.” Moreover, Sanders said Schultz, who was appearing before the committee pursuant to a subpoena, led the anti-union campaign.
Schultz basically shrugged.
Schultz insisted “unequivocally” that Starbucks has done nothing wrong, eliciting laughter from the audience.
Schultz claimed Starbucks does not refuse to engage in substantive negotiations with unions but insists for privacy reasons on doing so “face to face.” He did not explain why this seemingly arbitrary stance has prevented the company from approving a single union contract for a year and a half.
The multi-billionaire essentially told the Committee - “screw you.”
What will the committee do now?
Sanders said the “fundamental issue we are confronting today is whether we have a system of justice that applies to all or whether billionaires and large corporations can violate the law with impunity.”
Meanwhile, a series of Republican committee members set a new standard for debased toadying, including Kentucky Sen. Ron Paul and Utah Sen. Mitt Romney. They treated Schultz reverentially, asked softball questions, and claimed the Dems are unfairly tarnishing the corporation.
So much for the hope that Republicans offer a serious alternative for working class people.
Sanders said more than 60% of Americans are working paycheck to paycheck, despite the explosion in technology and increased worker productivity.
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