Howard Schultz, the CEO of U.S. coffee giant Starbucks, returned to his role again as the company faces a growing wish among employees to unionize.
Schultz told CNN that he believes "the efforts of unionization in America are in many ways a manifestation of a much bigger problem.”
He said, "there is a macro issue here that is much, much bigger than Starbucks."
The first store to vote in favor of unionizing was in December 2021 in the Buffalo, New York-area when three stores held separate union elections. One of the stores voted to unionize while one of the three rejected unionization.
The third store was not able to reach a verdict, and a legal battle was placed on the table, NPR reported.
CNN reported that a union, National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), has filed hundreds of unfair labor practices suits against the company.
As of February, NLRB has certified 282 stores which voted in favor of unionization.
Schultz told CNN that after speaking with "thousands" of workers he was "shocked, stunned to hear the loneliness, the anxiety, the fracturing of trust in government, fracturing of trust in companies, fracturing of trust in families, the lack of hope in terms of opportunity.”
The CEO told CNN he believes workers are upset "not so much with the company, but the situation.”
Schultz will retain a seat on the company's board this time as he leads Starbucks.
He said the continued efforts to unionize are because "Starbucks was not leading in a way that was consistent with its history.”
Schultz said he believes "people did lose trust in the leadership of the company.”