Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is stepping down two weeks earlier than previously intended, according to a March 20 article from The Guardian. The business leader, who has an established track record of anti-union sentiments, initially planned to depart at the end of March. He will be replaced by Laxman Narasimhan.
This marked Schultz’s third time serving as CEO of Starbucks. Previously, he worked as chief executive from 1986–2000 and 2008–2017. He stepped into the current interim position in April 2022, following the retirement of the previous CEO Kevin Johnson.
Starbucks announced the leadership change on Monday via an open letter from Schultz:
“What I want to write to you about is the love and responsibility for our company that we all share. Today, I am entrusting you all with Starbucks — something that holds a place in my heart second only to that of my beloved family,” he states.
Schultz previously came under fire for opposing unionization efforts at Starbucks stores in the United States. He repeatedly insisted that union formation wasn’t necessary to Starbucks’ company structure, according to CNN. In November 2022, he penned an additional letter to Starbucks employees, urging them to reconsider intentions to unionize.
“No partner has ever needed to have a representative seek to obtain things we all have as partners at Starbucks. And I am saddened and concerned to hear anyone thinks that is needed now,” Schultz states in the Nov. 6 letter. “Our leaders’ responsibility to practice servant leadership is an accountability that has zero compromise.”
The former CEO planned to testify at a Senate labor committee on March 29 regarding Starbucks’ policies and U.S. labor laws. The company confirmed Monday that Schultz plans to still testify at the end of the month, according to The Hill. Currently, nearly 300 Starbucks stores in the nation have voted to establish unions.
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