"Bernie Sanders" by Gage Skidmore on Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0: https://bit.ly/3Yk2Vp7

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and other Democrats on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee sent a letter to Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz on Tuesday demanding that he testify before the committee.

The letter to Schultz is one of Sen. Sanders’s first actions in his new role as Chairman of the HELP Committee. All Democrats on the committee signed onto the letter, including Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), and Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

“Please consider this letter an invitation to testify before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) on March 9, 2023,” the senators wrote. “The hearing will focus on Starbucks’ compliance with Federal labor laws.”

Starbucks has been embroiled in a series of lawsuits and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) cases alleging violations of U.S. labor law. The cascade of legal troubles from a combination of Biden administration officials and external plaintiffs follows a wave of unionization efforts at hundreds of Starbucks locations. These efforts were funded and coordinated, in large part, by Big Labor interests such as the Service Employees International Union.

Furthering the spectacle, Chairman Sanders has indicated that he is willing to use his new subpoena power to force Schultz to appear before the HELP Committee if he does not come voluntarily. The breakdown of previous power-sharing agreements due to Democrat wins in the 2022 Senate elections means the committee could issue a subpoena with no Republican support. 

Ultimately, this charade is nothing more than a distraction from the dangerous Biden-Sanders labor agenda.

During his State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Biden made clear that Democrats still intend to pass the job-killing PRO Act, short for “Protecting the Right to Organize.” The PRO Act is a grab-bag of every bad idea that union bosses desire: It would end secret ballot elections at many workplaces, make union intimidation easier, streamline union election timelines, and remove workers’ choice by overturning all state-level Right to Work laws.

The PRO Act would also codify two damaging policies that the Biden administration has been trying to implement at the regulatory level. First, the Biden Department of Labor (DOL) proposed a rule to institute new, more restrictive regulations on what constitutes independent contractor designations. In doing so, DOL would attempt to reclassify potentially millions of independent contractors as employees, removing their choice and their independence. Many reclassified workers would also see an increase in the income taxes they pay, once again violating Biden’s pledge to not raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year.

Simultaneously, the Biden NLRB is reviewing a new rule to broaden the joint employer standard, increasing liability on franchising and contracting businesses while empowering union bosses. Under the proposed standard, businesses could be forced into more complex collective bargaining agreements with multiple entities, creating additional costs and giving unions even more of an upper hand.

If Democrats gift the PRO Act to their Big Labor donors, these two provisions alone could cost as much as $55 billion per year. ATR submitted comments opposing both of these policies at the regulatory level.

Don’t get distracted by the bright shiny object. Behind closed doors, the Democrats are still hard at work to remove the rights of workers and employers alike.