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Bernie Sanders has a hot seat waiting for Starbucks' Howard Schultz

Working Lunch: Sanders may indeed be able to compel a Senate appearance by the outgoing chain CEO, but that's just one of the issues that Starbucks faced in the last week or so.

After the triple setbacks of the past week, acting Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz may be counting the days until he surrenders the job to successor Laxman Narasimhan.

As this week’s Working Lunch podcast reports, the usually unflappable Schultz has drawn fire on several fronts. Celebrity scold Bernie Sanders wants to grill him in the U.S. Senate. A Buffalo court is demanding the executive personally read aloud a 14-page memo to store-level employees on their rights. And a group of headquarters staff members are threatening to form their own union.

Podcast co-hosts Joe Kefauver and Franklin Coley, principals of the government-affairs consulting firm Align Public Strategies, devote a significant portion of the episode to what the developments mean for Starbucks and the larger restaurant industry.

They pay particular attention to Sanders’ announcement that he’ll seek a subpoena to compel an appearance before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which the populist senator from Vermont chairs.

All 10 committee Democrats and Sanders, technically an independent, would have to vote for subpoenaing Schultz before the executive steps down on April 1. 

“Bernie Sanders has a pretty good shot at getting the votes on this,’ said Coley. If so, “this sounds like must-see TV to me,” he added.

He and Kefauver also use the episode to explain why the employer community is upset about President Biden’s nomination of Julie Su to succeed Marty Walsh as secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor. They also review the restaurant-related legislation that is currently under consideration in statehouses and city councils.

Download the episode from wherever you get your podcasts.

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