Behind Starbucks union-busting stands CEO who got $940,000,000 richer during pandemic

"Starbucks and its billionaire CEO, Howard Schultz, can well-afford to improve employees' pay and working conditions through unionization."

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SOURCECommon Dreams

An analysis released Wednesday shows that the multi-billionaire chief executive spearheading Starbucks’ aggressive and unlawful union-busting campaign has gotten $940 million richer during the coronavirus pandemic as employees at the coffee chain have struggled to get by on low wages.

Compiled by the progressive group Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF), Billion-Dollar Union Busters: How Starbucks and Its Rich CEO Are Stifling Worker Organizing was published as the nationwide unionization drive at the coffee chain continues to grow in the face of increasingly brazen opposition from management, with more than 200 locations voting to join Workers United since December 2021.

“Over the last decade his wealth has increased by about $640,000 a day on average.”

“Starbucks and its billionaire CEO, Howard Schultz, can well-afford to improve employees’ pay and working conditions through unionization,” reads the new report. “Schultz’s personal fortune increased by nearly $1 billion during the COVID pandemic, leaping to nearly $4 billion today. Over the last decade his wealth has increased by about $640,000 a day on average, or more money in a single day than most of his store employees are likely to make from Starbucks in a lifetime.”

Schultz retook the helm at Starbucks in an interim capacity earlier this year as the unionization push spread rapidly to coffee shops across the country. Given his long history of union-busting, Schultz’s return was widely viewed as part of the corporation’s attempt to crush organizing momentum.

While recent data shows the union drive slowed slightly last month, the number of stores filing for union elections and winning is still rising at a striking pace, an indication that Starbucks’ aggressive anti-union tactics—from firing organizers to denying unionized workers wage and benefit improvements—have thus far been largely unsuccessful.

“As of early August 2022, Starbucks had racked up 276 unfair labor practice charges,” ATF notes in its report, which comes just ahead of Labor Day.

Zachary Tashman, a research and policy associate at ATF and the new report’s lead author, said in a statement Wednesday that “the ruthless union-busting strategy used by Starbucks and its billionaire CEO is a perfect example of how far wealthy corporations are willing to go to keep their profits concentrated in just a few hands.”

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