By David Shepardson
(MAINNEWS) – WASHINGTON, A U.S. Senate committee will vote next week on issuing a subpoena for Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) Chief Executive Howard Schultz to testify at a hearing on the company’s compliance with federal labor law, its chairman Senator Bernie Sanders said on Wednesday.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee also will vote on authorizing the panel to investigate labor law violations by major corporations, Sanders added.
Democrats have criticized Starbucks, saying the company has not bargained in good faith with workers joining unions. Starbucks has said it respects the right of its employees to organize and to engage in lawful union activities and denies wrongdoing.
Schultz last month declined an invitation from 11 senators to testify before the committee on March 9.
“He has denied meeting and document requests, skirted congressional oversight attempts and refused to answer any of the serious questions we have asked,” Sanders said of Schultz. “Unfortunately, Mr. Schultz has given us no choice but to subpoena him. A multi-billion dollar corporation like Starbucks cannot continue to break federal labor law with impunity. The time has come to hold Starbucks and Mr. Schultz accountable.”
Starbucks did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
After the planned March 8 vote on the subpoena, the committee will hold a hearing the same day on workers’ rights to join unions and will feature AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and Teamsters President Sean O’Brien.
Schultz, who rejoined Starbucks as interim CEO in April 2022, will “fully transition” out of the role in March, the Starbucks acting executive vice president and general counsel, Zabrina Jenkins, said in a Feb. 14 letter, writing that “we believe another senior leader with ongoing responsibilities is best suited to address these matters.”
Employees at more than 280 out of its roughly 9,000 company-operated U.S. locations have voted to join a labor union since 2021. The union is seeking increased pay and benefits, improved health and safety conditions and protections against unfair firings and discipline.