Starbucks chairman, president and CEO Howard Schultz continued his high-pressure assault on shutdown-gripped Washington by inviting customers to sign a petition asking lawmakers to come together.
In an open letter to business leaders about the ongoing halt in government services, Schultz said he hoped to use Starbucks’ scale for good by inviting customers and employees to sign the petition, which will be available at Starbucks’ 11,000 U.S. locations, Friday through Sunday.
The petition, which Schultz described as nonpartisan and “civil and respectful,” asks Congress and the White House to:
• Re-open the government to serve the people
• Pay debts on time to avoid another financial crisis
• Pass a bipartisan and comprehensive long-term budget deal by the end of the year
Schultz is one of many business leaders who have gone public with frustrations as the U.S. government continues the partial shutdown of services and elected official escalate a partisan battle over debt ceilings, spending and budgeting. The standstill in Washington, in its ninth day, has led to stock market declines, government employee furloughs and disrupted federal services like small business lending and food assistance. For restaurants in particular, the federal employee verification system, eVerify, has been offline.
Schultz said Starbucks locations are expected to serve millions of people over the weekend and all signatures will be tallied the following week. Before the Oct. 17 deadline for raising the U.S. debt limit, the signatures will be sent to lawmakers in Washington.
“What has become clear to me over these past few days — aside from the continued dysfunction we see from our elected leaders — is the sad and striking realization that the American people have no platform with which to voice their frustration with Washington and the current stalemate that threatens our nation,” wrote Schultz on Thursday.
“The fact that the government’s ‘We the People’ initiative website has shut down due to lack of funding says everything about the irresponsible and untenable situation our political leadership has created across America,” he continued.
Schultz first began venting his frustration with the government shutdown earlier this week with a letter to business leaders. At the time, he promised to galvanize and inspire customers to take action.
On Wednesday, Starbucks said it would offer guests a free tall brewed coffee through Friday to anyone who bought someone else a drink as an “act of generosity and civility,” and as a message to Washington that we all need to get along.
Schultz on Thursday urged business leaders to join the effort “to give the American people the voice they currently lack, and are desperately crying out for.
“And, in the process,” he added, “you can help to restore faith and trust in our government through your civil words and deeds.”