NEWS: In New Letter, Sanders Calls on CEO Howard Schultz to End Starbucks’ “Ruthless Union Busting Campaign” Against Own Workers

WASHINGTON, Jan. 18 – Following up on a previous letter sent in October of last year, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the incoming chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, on Wednesday sent a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz calling for the company to once and for all end its egregious union busting campaign against its own workers in stores across the country.

“It has been nearly 400 days since the first Starbucks union was certified by the NLRB, and yet you and your company have refused to bargain a first contract in good faith,” Sanders wrote. “Mr. Schultz, my request to you is simple: Obey the law. Sit down with your workers and bargain in good faith. Agree to a first contract that is fair and just. Stop shutting down pro-union shops and reinstate workers who have been fired for union organizing, including Ms. Brisack.”

Unlawfully fired for “the crime” of her courageous and effective union organizing efforts in Buffalo, New York, Jaz Brisack filed an unfair labor practice charge against Starbucks. The National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) General Counsel recently found merit with her claims and issued an official complaint against the company.

Sanders continued: “This request should not be difficult. Starbucks is a $122 billion-dollar corporation. In the first nine months of last year, Starbucks made $3.3 billion in profits and had enough money to provide its outgoing CEO, Kevin Johnson, with a $60 million golden parachute on top of his 39 percent pay raise. While Starbucks workers have risked their health and well-being to make your company successful during the pandemic, you became $800 million richer and are now worth $3.8 billion.”

Since the first store voted to unionize in December of 2021 in Buffalo, workers at more than 330 Starbucks in nearly 40 states across the country have held votes to unionize, citing various concerns – from safer working conditions during the pandemic and better wages, to better benefits and more reliable schedules.

Despite this growing movement, corporate leadership has fought their workers every step of the way, including after longtime CEO Schultz returned to head the company in April of 2022. Corporate leadership has refused to bargain a first contract in good faith, instead resorting to delay tactics and significant escalation in union busting, including the unlawful firing of employees, having the police called in response to a peaceful and lawful congregation of workers attempting to present their request for union recognition, and the shuttering of unionized stores.

There have been nearly 500 unfair labor practice cases filed against Starbucks and its affiliates. The NLRB has issued 69 complaints in response to those charges and has sought emergency preliminary injunctive relief in five additional cases in the Federal courts.

Sanders concluded the letter by writing: “The American people are growing increasingly disgusted with this type of outrageous corporate greed. As a United States Senator, I have zero tolerance for large, profitable corporations that flagrantly violate labor law, treat their workers with contempt, and refuse to bargain in good faith. I look forward to hearing from you soon.”

Ahead of their vote, Sanders rallied with the Buffalo store workers in support of their fight to unionize and continued to rally support as more stores joined the movement. In addition to the unionizing movement at Starbucks, Sanders has worked to rally support for the record wave of worker protests across industries and states, including among miners, steelworkers, health care workers, bakery workers, and workers at Amazon, Kellogg, John Deere, McDonald’s, Frito-Lay, NYU, Churchill Downs, and more.

Read the full letter here.