Submitted on Thu, 04/07/2011 - 3:13pm
By Mercer R. Cook - The Harvard Crimson, March 31, 2011 - reprinted according to Fair Use guidelines.
Harvard students, union members, and Starbucks employees from around the country are planning to protest a lecture by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz at Harvard Business School on Friday.
Schultz will be speaking to several hundred Business School students on his experiences running a successful business while also be promoting his new book, “Onward.”
Liberté Locke, an organizer of the event, said Starbucks employees are angered by what they deem to be hypocrisy in Schultz’s book, in which he expresses his commitment to his “partners”—as the company calls its workers. Employees of the company, especially union members, feel that Starbucks is one of the least labor friendly companies in America, Locke said. Starbucks has been found guilty by the National Labor Relations Board of violating labor rights, including charges of union busting and wrongful termination.
“For Howie [Schultz] to sit around and claim how much he loves us, it’s just disgusting,” said Locke, a Starbucks barista and Starbucks Workers Union organizer from New York. “Starbucks is one of the biggest union busting corporations in the United States.”
Harvard union representatives said they planned to support Starbucks workers in the protest.
Geoffrey “Geoff” Carens, an assistant librarian and member of the Harvard Union of Technical and Clerical Workers, emphasized what he called the “phoniness” of Schultz’s message.
“Howard Schultz likes to present Starbucks as a socially responsible corporation,” Carens said. “In reality, conditions are really bad and getting worse.”