Starbucks cleans house, looks outside company for new CEO

Only non-Starbucks employees need apply for the top job at the coffee giant, the company said.

Starbucks is interviewing candidates to succeed its longtime and current interim chief, Howard Schultz, but it’s looking outside it’s Seattle headquarters.

“For the future of the company, we need a domain of experience and expertise in a number of disciplines that we don’t have now,” Schultz told The Wall Street Journal. “It requires a different type of leader.”

Starbucks faces one of its biggest challenges yet – the unionziation of its stores across the country. Some 70 stores in 25 states have already voted to be represented by a union contract while 275 out of 9,000 stores have petitioned the National Labor Relations Board to be represented by a union.

Schultz, who has led the company for more than three decades, stepped back into the fray in April on an interim basis when Kevin Johnson stepped down. 

An empty Starbucks store.
Some 70 Starbucks stores have won union elections.
Cristina Arias

It was the Brooklyn-born Schultz’s third time taking the reins of the company he built into an international juggernaut.

Schultz says he is vetting several “viable candidates” and expects to choose one by the fall, according to the report.

In the meantime, he’s culling Starbucks’ current ranks to bring in new talent.

The company’s executives in charge of human resources, public affairs and public policy – two of which have been with the company for more than 15 years – are leaving the company.

As Starbucks faces a tsunami of labor activism, it has taken a hard line in some instances, offering its employees who do not want to be represented by a union contract better benefits than those working for stores that have a contract.

The Starbucks Workers United has accused the company of retaliating against workers who are pro-union.

Over the weekend, a store in Ithaca, NY, that was represented by the union was closed permanently by the company.

Howard Schultz smiling.
Howard Schultz has led Starbucks for more than three decades.
Getty Images

Starbucks Workers United has filed a complaint with the NLRB alleging that the company is retaliating against the workers at the store who walked out on the job due to an overflowing grease trap.

Starbucks denied the allegations, explaining that it regularly opens and closes stores.

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