Howard Schultz blasts unions as ‘outside force’ trying to disrupt Starbucks
Starbucks’ billionaire boss Howard Schultz blasted the organized labor drive at his company as an “outside force” as the Seattle-based coffee chain sees more store workers vote to join unions.
Newly leaked video obtained by the pro-labor news site More Perfect Union shows Schultz—who reook the reins as interim CEO last month — and another top executive denying allegations that the company is engaged in union-busting.
Rossann Williams, Starbucks’ president for North America, told the managers in the same video that it is “your No. 1 responsibility” to convince employees to vote.
“Do your role as a store manager [and] make sure your partners get balanced information about what’s going on — especially in [light of reports that the company is] union-busting all over the country,” Williams said.
She said “there was no union-busting going on” at Starbucks and that the company was trying to make sure that “every single partner has a right to have their voice heard.”
Schultz encouraged managers to communicate the company’s position to employees so that they “understand what it would really mean to vote for a union.”
The interim CEO said it was “critically important” that all employees vote. He then accused Starbucks Workers United of bullying other workers not to vote.
“Now, there are stories — I wasn’t there — but there are stories that people potentially had been bullied not to vote,” according to Schultz. He did not provide specifics or details to bolster the claim.
In the video, Williams claimed she had been in Buffalo NY, where the first Starbucks store became unionized, for four months and that “there was no union busting going on” — an assertion that a rep for Starbucks Workers United claimed was untrue.
“She was in our stores every day, taking workers out to lunch and hosting anti-union meetings,” said union representative, Casey Moore.
Schultz, the man credited with building the chain into a global empire and who recently took over the helm again on an interim basishas embarked on a tour of Starbuck stores nationwide to dissuade employees against unionization.
Earlier this week, workers at five Starbucks restaurants in Richmond, Virginiavoted to join a union — bringing the total number of unionizing locations to 26. Thus far, 15 of those stores have been certified by the National Labor Relations Board.
Workers at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Seattle — the city where the company is headquartered — also voted to unionize, according to The Seattle Times.
Employees at 218 other Starbucks locations have petitioned the NLRB to join a union.
According to More Perfect UnionStarbucks Workers United has filed more than 80 unfair labor practice complaints against the company.
Starbucks, which owns and operates some 9,000 locations across the United States, has been accused of firing pro-union baristas and reprimanding other workers who have also been active in the organized labor drive.
Lisa Fickenscher contributed reporting.