Ex-Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz testified throughout a much-anticipated listening to led by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) on Wednesday, parroting what seemed to be blatant lies concerning the firm’s fierce anti-union marketing campaign and lots of of labor legislation violations over the previous yr and a half.
For the roughly two hours that Schultz was within the scorching seat earlier than Sander’s Well being, Schooling, 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. (Staff 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 discount 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. Immediately after Sanders delivered his opening assertion, the senator fired off a sequence of questions on the corporate’s anti-union marketing campaign, which he labeled the “essentially the most aggressive and unlawful union-busting marketing campaign within the trendy historical past of our nation.”
“Are you conscious that [National Labor Relations Board] judges have dominated that Starbucks violated federal labor legislation over 100 instances throughout the previous 18 months, excess of another company in America?” he requested.
“Sir, Starbucks Espresso Firm, unequivocally — let me set the tone for this very early on — has not damaged the legislation,” Schultz mentioned, in an assertion he would echo quite a few instances all through the listening to.
However Starbucks has damaged the legislation repeatedly, in response to the union, labor board officers, a number of NLRB administrative legislation judges who determine and settle unfair labor observe expenses, and two federal judges to this point. A few of these choices are pending attraction by Starbucks. In the meantime, as of this week, there are over 70 instances earlier than NLRB judges nonetheless ready to be heard, in response to the labor board. By Starbucks Staff United’s depend, the labor board has discovered over 1,400 violations from the corporate to this point.
These choices are removed from trivial. Most lately, an NLRB choose discovered that the corporate had violated federal labor legal guidelines lots of of instances 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 choose wrote.
Throughout the listening to, Schultz dismissed this determination as “allegations,” prompting Sanders to remind him that it’s unlawful to lie whereas testifying below oath. “Mr. Schultz, earlier than answering the next questions, let me remind you that federal legislation, 18 U.S. Code Part 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 lots of of pro-union employees which have been terminated by the corporate.
Labor advocates instantly disputed Schultz’s declare that Starbucks’s authorized report 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 legislation was akin to somebody with 100 rushing tickets saying that they had by no means violated visitors legal guidelines.
“That will not be a plausible rivalry,” mentioned Sen. Chris Murphy (Connecticut). “So I discover it exhausting to consider your insistence that, not withstanding this extraordinary set of selections — reinstating employees, forcing shops to be reopened — that you’re, in truth, constantly abiding by the legislation.”
Maybe anticipating that the ex-CEO would insist that Starbucks has by no means damaged the legislation, Democrats on the HELP Committee launched 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 legislation as a result of they haven’t exhausted all of their appeals in federal courts, as much as and together with the Supreme Court docket,” the report reads. “FACT: It is 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. As an 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 accomplished.
“I do take offense, I’ve to confess as a result of it’s fairly private, if you carry up issues that you just heard that aren’t true,” Schultz responded. “Now we have by no means, ever taken any profit away, and we by no means would, of anybody who was all in favour of becoming a member of a union. We merely have mentioned that, below the legislation, our understanding is that we didn’t have the suitable to supply incremental advantages throughout the bargaining course of.” (This argument, which is favored by anti-union attorneys, has been debunked by labor consultants and officers.)
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 instructed a pro-union employee in a gathering final yr, “When 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 accomplice was making an attempt to interrupt the assembly and begin speaking concerning the union…. I simply turned to her, and I mentioned, ‘when you don’t like the corporate, when you hate the corporate, you might work some place else,’” he mentioned. “I didn’t know I used to be being filmed. I simply merely mentioned, ‘when you hate the corporate, you possibly can go work some place else.’”
Towards the top of his testimony, Schultz appeared to take situation even with the corporate’s personal written insurance policies. When Sen. Ben Ray Luján (D-New Mexico) raised the corporate’s coverage that part-time employees should work roughly 20 hours per week to be eligible for sure advantages, as half of a bigger concern about Starbucks reducing hours, Schultz mentioned, “I’m unsure that’s right, sir. I’d must get again to you, I’m unsure that’s right.”
“I don’t need to ask one among your attorneys,” Luján responded. “I consider that to be true. I see lots 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 minimize throughout the board — although the union discovered final yr that employees had been reporting cuts and the NLRB has bolstered a few of these findings.
Shortly after Luján’s questioning, Schultz’s time within the highlight was over. A number of Starbucks employees had been set as much as testify, and the corporate representatives Starbucks dropped at the listening to stood up and left.
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