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Starbucks tries to thwart Bernie Sanders’ attempt to subpoena Howard Schultz


WASHINGTON — Starbucks is pushing back on Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee he chairs ahead of a vote scheduled next week to subpoena the CEO by acting Howard Schultz as part of an investigation into the federal government. labor law.

“Respectfully, Howard Schultz is the wrong witness for the hearing,” Zabrina Jenkins, Starbucks acting executive vice president and general counsel, wrote in the newspaper. letterwhich was addressed to Sanders, ranking member Bill Cassidy, R-La., and the rest of the HELP committee.

Jenkins said Schultz “took on the role of interim CEO nine months after the union issues emerged and has been focused on Starbucks’ plan to reinvent itself since then.” She said he “will step down as the company’s interim CEO this month.”

Sanders, who has built his national profile as a pro-worker populist, is trying to investigate dozens of complaints that Starbucks violated federal labor laws and other accusations of unfair labor practices leveled against the company. under the direction of Schultz. Starbucks has defended its actions, including filing counter-complaints against unions.

Sanders quickly denied the request, responding in a letter that “the Senate HELP Committee called Howard Schultz to testify, and not a subordinate, because he is the man who designed and continues to make labor decisions at Starbucks”.

The company requested that others testify instead. Jenkins offered herself, along with AJ Jones II, executive vice president and chief communications officer, and May Jensen, vice president of partner relations and labor.

Sanders told NBC News this week that he plans to hold a committee vote next week on Schultz’s subpoena and is eyeing March 15 for him to testify.

“Look, the bottom line here is not complicated. You have a multi-billionaire named Mr. Schultz, who is the head of a profitable multinational, who apparently thinks he doesn’t have to pay attention to the law,” Sanders said, citing citations against him by the National. Labor Relations Board. “That’s not what should happen in America. We should all have a justice system, whether you’re a billionaire or anyone else. And unfortunately, we don’t have that right now. So I look forward to having Mr. Schultz before the committee to answer questions about why he thinks he may be breaking federal law.

A subpoena requires majority support on the committee, on which Democrats have an 11-10 advantage over Republicans. Cassidy said he wouldn’t support the subpoena.

“I think we’re in pretty good shape,” Sanders said. “I think we are strong among Democrats. And I hope that we will also have the support of the Republicans.

Liz Brown Kaiser contributed.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.