Senator Bernie Sanders Grills Starbucks CEO About Union Busting In Senate Hearing

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Vermont state Senator Bernie Sanders grilled Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz over the company’s labor unions. The massively popular coffee chain has been home to striking workers for nearly a year, with workers alleging poor working conditions, little to no time off or benefits, and slim to no company protections when it comes to harassment. Schultz addressed Starbucks’ anti-union “rumors” in the ongoing Senate hearing. Schultz defended himself by saying that his alleged statements were “interpreted in a different way than he intended.”

Sanders went on to ask Schultz about the company’s benefits. Many current and former Starbucks employees have alleged that the company withheld benefits from unionized workers, especially in moments of need, like the COVID-19 pandemic. Schultz asserted that he was not aware that the company was legally permitted to provide the employees with benefits.

Meanwhile, Starbucks employees and members of the Starbucks United union are tuning into the hearing across the nation. The stories of the company’s alleged anti-union stance continue to swirl across social media.

Some workers allege that the company’s choice to withheld healthcare from unionized employees signifies a pattern of union busting.

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Senator Sanders has long been an outspoken supporter of labor unions throughout his decades long career in politics, and Starbucks workers voiced support for him during today’s hearing.

Following Sanders’ initial round of questioning, Senator Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma continuously stated that Sanders was worth 8 million dollars. Sanders quickly corrected him, accusing him of spreading misinformation and anti-union propaganda.

Jaysin Saxton, a former Starbucks barista who worked at the Buffalo, New York location, went into detail about his experience of attempting to unionize with workers. He alleged that corporate sent people to intimidate the workers.

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Maggie Carter, another worker from the Knoxville, Tennessee location detailed her experience with attempting to transfer store locations mid-pandemic as a single mother. She alleged that Starbucks refused her store transfer after she had worked for the company for a year, revoking her benefits and job security.

The National Labor Relations Board has alleged that Starbucks has broken the law with several of their practices, and the nationwide protests combined with the Board’s assessment is ultimately what led the Senate to hold a hearing on the matter. Starbucks currently operates multiple store locations in every U.S. state. The hearing on the coffee giant has attracted mass attention, both from the media and from onlookers on Capitol Hill.

A reporter named Lisa Desjardins who was present at the hearing shared a photo on Twitter that depicted the packed room before and after Schultz’ testimony.

Both Schultz and Sanders left the halls of congress with police escorts.  The hearing held before Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, titled “No Company Is Above the Law: The Need to End Illegal Union Busting at Starbucks,” has not yet decided whether Starbucks is guilty of union busting.

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