Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has agreed to testify this month before a Senate committee scrutinizing union strife at the coffee chain, a move that averts a threat by Chairman Bernard Sanders to issue a subpoena for the corporate chief.
Zabrina Jenkins, general counsel of Starbucks, notified the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Tuesday that Mr. Schultz will testify at a hearing on March 29. She said the decision came “after constructive discussions with committee staff.”
Mr. Sanders had scheduled a committee vote for Wednesday on issuing a rare subpoena. The Vermont independent said lawmakers in both parties were prepared to compel Mr. Schultz’s testimony.
“I look forward to hearing from Mr. Schultz as to when he intends to end his illegal anti-union activities and begin signing fair first contracts with the unions,” Mr. Sanders said in a statement.
Mr. Schultz has been a repeated target of criticism by Mr. Sanders, who accuses him of union-busting tactics at the coffee chain that employs about 250,000 workers in the U.S.
Ms. Jenkins, who also serves as Starbucks’ acting executive vice president, said the company “will endeavor to provide a deeper understanding of our culture and priorities, including our industry-leading benefits offerings and our long-standing commitment to support the shared success of our more than 450,000 global partners (employees).”
But Mr. Sanders contends Starbucks “has done everything possible” to prevent workers from organizing and engaging in collective bargaining.
“Despite the fact that over 280 Starbucks coffee shops have successfully voted to form a union over the past year, Starbucks has refused to negotiate in good faith to sign a single first contract with their employees,” Mr. Sanders said. “The HELP Committee intends to make clear that in America we must not have a two-tiered justice system in which billionaires and large corporations can break the law with impunity, while working-class people are held accountable for their actions.”
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