WSLC’s Sims: Howard Schultz is ‘an embarrassment’ to WA

Leader of state’s largest labor organization says the former Starbucks CEO’s legacy has been ‘permanently stained’ by illegal – and unsuccessful – efforts to prevent his employees from unionizing.


SEATTLE (March 29, 2023) — April Sims, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, released the following statement regarding former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s testimony today before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee:

Howard Schultz says that leading Starbucks has been his “life’s work.” But his legacy is permanently stained by his decision to break labor laws and deny his employees their basic legal rights. It’s not up to Howard Schultz, Laxman Narasimhan, or any other CEO to decide whether employees can join together in a union. It’s up to the workers. That’s the law, and Howard Schultz and Starbucks are not above it.

In the past 16 months, thousands of Starbucks workers at hundreds of stores have chosen to form unions to improve their wages and working conditions. And more are doing so every day. Schultz and Starbucks have retaliated against organizing workers with illegal scorched-earth tactics: firing them for trumped-up reasons, denying them raises, cutting their hours, closing their stores, withholding credit card tipping, and refusing to negotiate a first contract. Court decisions have confirmed that Starbucks continues to commit these “egregious and widespread” labor law violations. And yet, in the face of all this, brave Starbucks workers are still standing up for their rights and demanding a union contract.

While Starbucks is a multi-national corporation, it often celebrates its roots in Washington. Our state is one of the most unionized states in the country. We are proud of our progressive pro-worker values and our history of defying corporate control of the working class. Starbucks may call Seattle home, but Howard Schultz is an embarrassment to Washington state.


The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO is the state’s largest union organization, representing some 600 unions with 450,000 rank-and-file members. Learn more at www.wslc.org.

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