Last week, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz testified to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee at the request of chairman Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who accused Schultz and the coffee giant of engaging in “union busting” to stop Starbucks workers from organizing.
During the hearing, Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney defended Schultz by calling out the Democrats on the committee over their lack of experience in creating jobs, Utah’s Deseret reported.
Romney noted the irony of a “non-coffee-drinking Mormon” like himself defending Schultz, a former Democrat presidential candidate who once ran “one of the most liberal companies” in the country.
He told Schultz that he found it “rich” that he was getting grilled by Senators who, despite never creating a single job, think they know more about job creation and what is “best for the American worker” and the US economy.
Romney also suggested that the Democrats on the committee have a “conflict of interest” since much of their political donations come from unions.
While conceding that he believes workers have the legal right to unionize, Romney said Starbucks could have legitimate reasons for not wanting its employees to form a union.
Under Romney’s questioning, Schultz gave as an example a Vermont Starbucks location where the workers voted to unionize. According to Schultz, while there were 21 employees of that particular Starbucks, only six participated in the vote and only four of them voted for the union.
Since the store unionized based on four votes, it has “twice the level of attrition” as the other Vermont Starbucks locations, and the majority of the workers there have left, Schultz said. He added that what happened in the Vermont location is “exactly what’s going on around the country.”
When Romney asked Schultz where Starbucks’s profits go, the former CEO said company profits go to infrastructure, including building new stores, as well as compensation and its shareholders.