Starbucks CEO: Open Restroom Policy Could End; unions should not ‘lead our people’

Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz said Thursday the company may close its bathrooms to people who aren’t customers, reversing a 2018 policy.

Schultz cited security as the reason for the rollback of the open bathroom policy, which came about after an incident at a Philadelphia Starbucks that sparked accusations of racial bias.

“We need to strengthen our stores and keep our employees safe,” Schultz said Thursday at The New York Times’ Dealbook DC forum. The event invites leaders from business, media and politics to discuss national policy issues.

The policy allowing anyone to use Starbucks bathrooms arose in response to outrage over video of an April 2018 incident in which two black men arrived at a Starbucks store in Philadelphia early for a meeting. business with a colleague, and one of them was turned down. access to the bathroom. An employee called the police, saying the men were refusing to order anything or leave the store.

The incident went viral online, and there were protests and calls to boycott Starbucks for racist behavior.

Also on Thursday, Schultz said he doesn’t see unions playing a role in what he called a “transformation” of the company.

Schultz, who led the Seattle-based company from boutique roaster to coffee giant, returned as interim CEO in April amid widespread efforts by employees, including in Seattle, to unionize Starbucks stores. . Weeks after his return, he said the unions were a vocal minority seeking to divide the company and its workers.

In May, Starbucks announced it would spend $200 million on stores and workers, including higher hourly wages for non-union employees. Schultz has said in the past that Starbucks didn’t need unions because it was a pioneer in employee benefits and compensation.

He said he returned to the company because Starbucks had “a responsibility and an obligation” to reinvent worker accountability to the company. But unions have no place in the transformation, he said. About 275 of Starbucks’ 9,000 stores have filed union petitions.

“We don’t believe a third party should rule our people,” Schultz said.

Schultz also said unionization is part of a larger generational divide.

“What’s happening in America is bigger than Starbucks,” Schultz said at the forum. “Starbucks unfortunately happens to be the agent.”

Starbucks and the unions have filed a wave of complaints against each other. Unions have filed 56 complaints with the National Labor Relations Board for unfair practices, while Starbucks has filed complaints against unions for what it calls worker harassment and intimidation. On Friday, the United Steelworkers of Canada filed an unfair labor practice complaint against Starbucks with the British Columbia Labor Relations Board for failing to provide wage increases to unionized workers at a department in flying.

Starbucks announced Monday that Schultz will step down as interim CEO in early 2023, following the end of the first quarter. The new CEO is expected to be announced in the fall.

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Post expires at 2:00pm on Tuesday June 21st, 2022