The Seattle City Council is considering a proposal that would, essentially, restrict how many people businesses can hire, when they can schedule employees to work without paying a penalty, and the length of notice businesses give them about their work. As Shift reported, Howard Behar, the former president of Starbucks International, isn’t happy about the direction his city is heading.
Earlier this month, Behar purchased a full-page ad in The Seattle Times — in the form of a letter that publicly rebukes city officials —to express his displeasure. He blasted city councilmembers for placing the interests of labor unions that provide them campaign cash over those of businesses that create jobs in the city.
Well, according to recent reports, Behar did not stop at publically blasting councilmembers via ads in the Seattle Times. He’s also been blasting city leaders via letters and emails.
In attempt to garner support from Seattle leaders (rightly or wrongly) perceived to be business-friendly, Behar wrote to deputy Seattle mayor Kate Joncas, council member Tim Burgess, and King County Deputy Executive Fred Jarrett:
“What the council is considering is just plain looney. …
“Let me give just one example of why this is so ridiculous. One of the proposals is to require that companies offer more hours to existing people before being able to hire more people. When you do that you do a couple of things. You decrease the number of positions in a store so that decreases jobs. The second thing that happens you now have fewer people to handle requested leaves, sicknesses and no shows. It takes all of the flexibility out of the system, the nature of the business requires flexibility. And yet because of this proposal they want to build in penalties not to mention all of the potential lawsuits for not offering the hours to existing people. I know that the next thing they are going to ask for is extra hours being offered by seniority… Hmmmm just like the teachers unions… how is that working for us.
“Is it not enough that Starbucks is now paying a ‘living’ wage, providing healthcare for all, stock options for all, assistance with college tuition, sick leave, a pound of coffee a week for free ($600 a year), vacation pay, 401k’s AND THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL A FUN JOB in an organization that treats their people with respect and dignity and lots of opportunity for growth. Why is it that we are now thinking that we need to penalize companies for providing good jobs. We are beginning to take these companies for granted. I can almost promise what is coming next. Jobs for underserved kids and summer jobs will be non existent and you will putting together programs to deal with the problem you caused.”
Behar reserved his most blistering criticism for Councilmember M. Lorena González. In an email, Behar accused Gonzales of taking her “marching orders” from Service Employees International Union leader David Rolf. Behar stated, “If you are after truth then do your work. Represent all the people not just David Rolf who is basically trying to get rid of part time work.” He went on:
“It’s obvious that your mind was made up before you started this process. I now am questioning if you are trying to help people or just penalize businesses for being in business… I am disgusted with this city government. You are not progressive you are permissive…. permissive in allowing lies to go unchallenged, permissive in allowing our downtown to become an unwelcoming place to live by allowing drug deals to continue going on in our neighborhoods, permissive in allowing developers free reign. I expect more and so do a lot of other people. Can you please let common sense prevail. Warm regards, Howard Behar”
Despite his best efforts, it isn’t likely Behar will succeed in convincing councilmembers like Gonzales to reverse course. As Shift reported, in their effort to support the regulations, the city has already gone so far as to manufacture a survey designed to yield the results Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, council members, and special interests’ want.
Democrats have always placed the interests of big labor before those of businesses — the “loony” scheduling regulations are just another example.