Howard Schultz Makes Starbucks, Holocaust Comparison

Some people thought it missed the mark
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2021 5:46 PM CST

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is Jewish, but that fact isn't lessening the scrutiny around a Holocaust comparison he made Saturday. He was speaking to workers in the Buffalo, New York, area who are looking to unionize, and tried to emphasize Starbucks' history of doing right by its employees. Per a transcript obtained by the New York Times, he recounted a story a rabbi in Israel had told him about concentration camp inmates' tendency to share their limited number of blankets with each other during WWII. "Not everyone, but most people shared their blanket with five other people," said Schultz, the company's largest shareholder. "So much of that story is threaded into what we've tried to do at Starbucks—is share our blanket."

The Times, which notes Schultz referenced the same story at a 2016 shareholders' meeting, described some workers in attendance as being "confused" by the story, with one barista saying it "wasn’t a very appropriate analogy." The Forward, which covers "issues ... that matter to American Jews" dubbed it a "mystifying" and "ill-fated remark." Vice reports none of the 8,000 Starbucks locations in America have been unionized, so the effort by the three Buffalo-area stores is being closely watched. Voting will begin Nov. 10, with the mail-in ballots tallied on Dec. 10. (More Starbucks stories.)

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