Starbucks Corp. Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz is starting a petition calling for an end to the U.S. shutdown and a deal for the nation’s budget.
“The American people have no platform with which to voice their frustration,” Schultz, 60, said by telephone today.
People can sign the petition in the Seattle-based coffee seller’s stores starting tomorrow or online today, he said. They can add their names in about 60 percent of Starbucks’ 11,200 U.S. locations that are company owned.
Schultz, who has been vocal in the past on a range of political topics from gun control to prior budget standoffs, is urging the White House and Congress to re-open the government. He’s also calling on lawmakers to pay debts to avoid a financial crisis and reach a long-term budget deal by the end of the year.
“The responsibility is on the President and Congress to reach a compromise,” Schultz said. Government dysfunction is worse now than it was in 2011, he said.
Schultz said that he recently talked to Representative Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican and chairman of the House Budget Committee, Senator Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, and fellow CEOs about the shutdown and pending debt crisis.
“There’s no company in America, no company small or large, that is immune from the destruction of what’s going on in the U.S. economy,” Schultz said.
Starbucks, the world’s largest coffee-shop operator, yesterday said it would give customers a free tall brewed coffee if they bought someone else their favorite drink to encourage the U.S. government to reach a solution to the shutdown. Schultz has also asked customers to leave weapons at home after being caught in the debate over gun rights in the U.S.
The partial shutdown, which started Oct. 1, has closed government services and furloughed federal workers. Some functions, such as mail delivery, are continuing. House Republican leaders have proposed a short-term increase in the debt ceiling that would continue the government shutdown and reduce the prospects for a U.S. default while extending the partisan fiscal fight.
President Barack Obama would likely sign a debt-ceiling increase without policy conditions, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, told reporters today.
In December, Starbucks baristas in Washington wrote “Come Together” on customers’ cups to encourage U.S. politicians to reach a compromise to reduce the national debt. Two years ago, Schultz urged Obama and Congress to overcome party divisions to fix the nation’s budget deficit and unemployment.
“The responsibility, and in a sense the rules of engagement, for a company today is changing,” Schultz said. “It’s changing because we have a greater responsibility to our employees and the communities we serve because unfortunately the government is letting us down.”
Schultz said he wouldn’t consider running for a public office.
Starbucks has outperformed the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index this year. The shares have gained 44 percent in 2013, while the S&P 500 has advanced 19 percent.