Starbucks CEO resigns early ahead of Senate testimony

Howard Schultz, the former interim CEO of Starbucks, is stepping down as head of the company earlier than expected, just days before he is expected to testify before a Senate committee investigating the coffee giant’s handling of union organizing efforts.

Starbucks announced Monday that Laxman Narasimhan, who was selected as the company’s incoming chief executive in September, will take over for Schultz immediately. He was originally due to take over at the beginning of next month.

Schultz served three different stints at the top of the company. He was CEO from 1986 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2017. He served as Interim CEO from 2022 to 2023.

Schultz̵[ads1]7;s early exit from the company comes about a week before he is scheduled to testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee after weeks of back-and-forth between the company and committee chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to secure Schultz’s testimony.

Sanders is seeking input from Schultz on Starbucks’ response to the wave of union action that has swept hundreds of locations in recent years. The company has long been criticized by union organizers for its handling of workers’ efforts to organize, prompting scrutiny from Sanders and other lawmakers.

Earlier this month, a National Labor Relations Board judge ruled that Starbucks committed “egregious and widespread” violations of federal law in its campaign to stop unions. More than 280 Starbucks locations have voted to organize in the U.S. since 2021, but the company has clashed very publicly with organizers in that time, firing 200 of them.

Schultz leaving the company early has not changed plans for him to testify before senators on March 29, the company confirmed to The Hill.

Schultz agreed to testify after the company rebuked Sanders’ request that the interim CEO speak to lawmakers. The committee was set to vote on a subpoena for his testimony before Schultz agreed to testify voluntarily.

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