Starbucks’ Anti-Union Practices Finally Brought to Washington

There need to be much stronger penalties for breaking labor law — and the new generation of organizers can’t be stopped

Mitchell Peterson
7 min readApr 4


Photo by Anton Ponomarenko on Unsplash

It’s hard to have sympathy for billionaire Howard Schulz, who last week had to sit in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and answer some questions regarding Starbucks’ atrocious labor practices. The confident CEO and author of multiple books tried his best to sidestep the hearings, even going so far as to step down as CEO shortly beforehand and arguing others in the company were more suited to answer the questions.

But the chairman of the committee, Senator Bernie Sanders was not having it — and that’s why he’s a legend. Sanders argued that Schulz has been instrumental in shaping the labor policies at the company. And so, under the threat of freaking subpoena, Schulz finally agreed to testify.

It wasn’t all bad for him though as Republicans on the committee, who love to pretend to stand for American workers, don’t care about labor violations or companies breaking the law and instead, decided to play defense for Starbucks, heap lavish praise on the billionaire, and throw shade at committee chair Sanders.

Apparently, it doesn’t matter if you break the law as long as you “create jobs.”

And as with all things politics, there was a lot of theater.

But the underlying issues are incredibly important.

The event showed what most Americans already know: we have a two-tiered justice system. Billionaires and corporations break laws with no consequences but mothers shoplifting for their children will receive the full force of “justice.”

The Starbucks labor disputes also show that the union movement is finally gaining steam again in the States.

And it also shows that this new generation of young labor organizers is not f*cking around.

I think it speaks volumes to the importance of unions that a company would put this much effort, this level of financial commitment, and take this…



Mitchell Peterson

Freelance writer who spent nine years outside the US, currently in rural America writing the Substack bestseller 18 Uncles.