What Reddit Had To Say About This Sighting Of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz

On April 4, Howard Schultz resumed his onetime position as the CEO of Starbucks, albeit in a temporary manner as the company prepares to transition from the leadership of the previous CEO Kevin Johnson. His return occurred at a point when unionization efforts are picking up across Starbucks locations across the country. "It's in his blood, and it's personal for him," Nancy Koehn, a historian at the Harvard Business School, explained to NPR. She went on to say that she expects his brief second tenure to feature listening sessions to reduce the problems that inspire people to push for unions.

That certainly seems to be happening. At least, the Starbucks subreddit has two reported sightings of Howard Schultz in Southern California. Whether these are two separate sightings or one appearance seen by two people is unclear.  "Howard visited a new Starbucks in my city of Long Beach," the OP of one claimed, "and he avoided all questions about union busting as well as misgendering a partner who he spoke to." "About what I expected based on the letter he sent everyone," one barista commented.

The day before this a picture surfaced with the caption "Howard came to Southern Cali to hear us out. So that's something." There was one note of cautious positivity in the responses here though with one person relaying how Schultz announced that supervisors would be instructed to step in when customers get rude. This, according to Business Insider, is one of the main drivers for unionization.

Not everything went smoothly

Despite the one positive response in the post showing Howard Schultz's visit, a larger number of people were unconvinced. "Now the press release can say he visited with partners and heard their concerns," one cynic commented.

If Schultz was hoping that undergoing a tour of listening sessions would paper over any tensions, he must have been disabused because the meeting turned into a confrontation. More Perfect Union reports that when one barista asked about Starbucks' continued anti-union strategy, Schultz snapped back, "If you hate Starbucks so much, why don't you go somewhere else?" This was preceded by Schultz refusing to comment on the recent retaliation against a union effort in Philadelphia.

Of course, More Perfect Union has a certain bias. What is worth noting though is that when the article made its way to the Starbucks subreddit, no one was surprised. "I hope he actually leaves the company in the fall like they said he would," a supervisor wrote. A coffee master went further, charging Schultz with insufficient love for the company: "Baristas are organizing because we like Starbucks and know it can be a better company than it is right now." In other words, the people who already see the need for a union are unlikely to be won over by listening sessions that are determined from corporate. Whether this will win over the more undecided has yet to be seen.