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Former three-time Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is scheduled this morning to appear in front of the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, chaired by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), to defend the company's anti-union activities.

The Washington Post writes that "Sanders and Democratic committee members are expected to grill Schultz about his role in designing Starbucks’s anti-union campaign and the company’s tactics in labor talks at stores that have unionized. More than a year into negotiations at some locations, not a single store has come close to reaching a contract agreement, with both parties accusing each other of not bargaining in good faith."

The Post points out that "the committee’s Republicans could take a softer approach to Schultz. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) accused the National Labor Relations Board earlier this month of coordinating with Starbucks Workers United and 'weaponizing its enforcement power to target high-profile employers'."

“The main topic is that even if you are a multibillion dollar corporation run by a multibillionaire, you have to obey the law,” Sanders tells the Post in advance of the hearing.  "The major request for Mr. Schultz tomorrow is obey the law. Sit down and negotiate a first contract with your employees.”

And Schultz tells the Post, "I’m going remind members of Congress and Bernie Sanders’ committee, respectfully, who we are, what we stand for, and what we believe in.  And what I have always believed is in building a different kind of company: a company that balances profit with a conscience, benevolence, and most importantly, putting our people first.”

The hearing is scheduled for 10 am today, and will air on CSPAN-3.

KC's View:

For geeks like me, this is must-see TV, even though I expect that the politicians on the committee will be more focused on making their points than actually listening to the answers to their questions.  I also think that Schultz's definition of "benevolence" (which sounds vaguely condescending) and "conscience" may be at odds with how the unionizing workers define those words.  And maybe even at odds with what the law requires.

Let the games begin.