Mitt Romney Joins Starbucks CEO To Defend Him

( Republican Senator Mitt Romney from Utah expressed his support for Howard Schultz, the former CEO at Starbucks, this week after Democrats grilled him about the coffee company’s attempts to prevent its employees from unionizing.

The hearing was held in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee this week. During it, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont accused Starbucks and Schultz of engaging in what he called “union-busting. He said that the campaign the company launched against unionizing both “illegal” and “aggressive.”

Yet, Romney backed Schultz and Starbucks, saying that his liberal Senate colleagues don’t have any experience creating jobs to have a leg to stand on when it comes to criticizing the moves.

Employees from almost 300 Starbucks locations in America have created unions that are affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, a giant in the labor industry. Starbucks had a unique response to the campaign the union launched, giving out extra perks and benefits to employees who didn’t join the union.

It’s also worked hard to try to persuade workers not to join the union or create new unions.

Schultz, who was CEO when all this went down but stepped down recently from his post, staunchly defended what Starbucks did, saying the company didn’t break the law.

During the hearing, Romney expressed his support for the company and Schultz. In doing so, he also made mention of the fact that he and Schultz don’t align much from a political standpoint.

As he said:

“I recognize at the outset there’s some irony to a non-coffee drinking Mormon conservative defending a Democrat candidate for president in perhaps one of the most liberal companies in America.

“That being said, I also think it’s somewhat rich that you’re being grilled by people who have never had the opportunity to create a single job, and yet they believe that they know better how to do so and what’s best for the American worker and what’s best for the American economy — what’s best for growth.”

Romney also accused his Democratic counterparts of potentially having a “conflict of interest” in the case, since many unions donate a ton of money to their political campaign. Unions are typically huge political donors, and much of their donations go to liberal candidates.

Even though he backed Starbucks’ actions, Romney also said he believes that workers do have a right to start a union if they want to. He also added that unions are indeed necessary so that workers’ rights can be protected in times when companies “are not good employers.”

Schultz spoke during the hearing and brought up an example of a Starbucks store in Vermont at which employees voted to unionize. He pointed out that the store had 21 employees, but only six of them participated in the vote to unionize, with only four of those employees wanting to start the union.

As he said:

“Since six people voted to [form] the union, of the seven stores in Vermont, this particular store has twice the level of attrition, and the majority of the people have left the store. The Vermont thing is not a proxy. The Vermont thing is exactly what’s going on around the country.”