Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz invokes the Holocaust to deter union

Howard Schultz, the former Jewish CEO and chairman of Starbucks, invoked the Holocaust while discussing a pending unionization vote during a meeting with employees at the coffee giant’s Buffalo-area store last weekend. The New York Times reported.

According to eyewitness accounts and a transcript of the meeting, Schultz “noted that only a small portion of the prisoners in German concentration camps received blankets, but they often shared them with other prisoners,” and later commented: “What we have Tried to do at Starbucks is share our blanket. “

The analogy, which an assistant told the Times was inappropriate, it could be interpreted to mean that Starbucks distributes scarce resources among its workforce. It’s unclear why Schultz thought that would resonate with his audience, the employees of three Starbucks franchise locations in the Buffalo area that are scheduled to begin voting Wednesday on whether they will become the first corporate-owned Starbucks stores in the United States. unionize.

The chain had closed stores for the day so employees could attend Schultz’s talk, which was part of the company’s efforts to discourage employees from forming a union. Attendance at the talk itself was voluntary.

Starbucks President and CEO Howard Schultz delivers a speech at Starbucks Investor Day 2016 in Manhattan, New York, U.S., on December 7, 2016. (Credit: ANDREW KELLY / REUTERS)

About 100 employees will vote in union elections; Organizers have cited pressures from the pandemic as well as an increasingly strict job market for their petition. Union organizers have already filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board that Starbucks has engaged in “threats, intimidation, surveillance, complaint request and facility closure” ahead of closely watched voting at the progressive-minded corporation. .

Schultz, who resigned from Starbucks company operations in 2018 after 37 years at the helm but remains its largest shareholder, has occasionally mentioned his Judaism to his employees. He formed an exploratory committee to run for president as a third-party candidate in the 2020 elections before finally deciding not to run. His net worth is estimated at $ 5 billion.

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