retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Bloomberg reports that Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks who largely was responsible for much of its growth until he retired in 2017, traveled to Buffalo last week at the company's behest to try to dissuade employees there from unionizing.

The story notes that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last week "issued a ruling allowing store-by-store unionization votes at the three sites … the agency is slated to mail ballots to employees on Wednesday."

Schultz reported both met with employees - stores closed early in order to allow workers to attend the meeting - and wrote them a letter reiterating points he made in the meeting.

“I see the changes, commitments and engagement happening," Schultz wrote, adding, "We must remember to earn success and trust each day, taking accountability and correcting when there are missteps … 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.”

KC's View:

I've long suggested here that Schultz has something of a messiah complex, and so being parachuted in to Buffalo to fight the unionization movement must have appealed to him.

But in some ways the story confuses me.  Who, exactly, is he disappointed in?  Because it almost sounds as if he is saddened and concerned that the company he molded has let it get to the point where a unionization vote is taking place.  And if that's the case, if the employees vote to unionize, are we looking at a return ope Howard Schultz to Starbucks?