More than a million Starbucks customers and employees signed petitions Monday in the coffeehouse operator’s first day of an effort to pressure the nation’s lawmakers to end the two-week government shutdown and debt-ceiling impasse, the company said.

Starbucks Corp. chairman, president and CEO Howard Schultz issued an open letter to business leaders last week and invited customers and employees to sign a petition at Starbucks’ 11,000 U.S. locations and online. The company has dubbed the effort “Come Together.”

In his letter, Schultz wrote, “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.”

The petition, which will be delivered to leaders in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, asked Congress and the White House to re-open the government to serve the people, pay debts on time to avoid another financial crisis, and pass a bipartisan and comprehensive long-term budget deal by the end of the year.

In addition to the shutdown, the government faces an Oct. 17 deadline for raising the U.S. debt limit.


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“The momentum continued through the weekend in our stores, and the petition is still live online,” wrote Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson in an e-mail sent Monday.

A final number of signatures will be announced Tuesday afternoon, Hutson said. As of midday Monday, more than 187,300 people had liked the Facebook version of the petition, and 17,500 people had shared it.

Customers can sign the petition by liking the company's post on Facebook“The groundswell of support we’ve seen reflects how much the petition is resonating with everyday Americans who want our leaders to act with civility and reach a compromise,” said Hutson. “We want to thank our partners, our customers and the other companies, like AOL, Marriott and Caterpillar, who are joining us in this effort,” he added.

In addition to the petition, Starbucks attemped to send a message to Washington last week with a promotion offering guests a free tall brewed coffee if they bought someone else a drink as an “act of generosity and civility.”

Schultz is one of many business leaders who have publicly voiced frustrations over the U.S. government’s partial shutdown of services and the partisan battle over the debt ceiling and budgeting.

The International Franchise Association called on Congress Friday to fund the federal government and raise the debt ceiling.

“Franchise business owners want their elected officials on both sides of the aisle to put aside the partisan rancor and negative rhetoric so we can get this economy moving again,” IFA president and chief executive Steve Caldeira said in a statement.

Caldeira added that failure to raise the debt ceiling “would almost certainly plunge the economy back into deep recession and fiscal calamity.”

Contact Ron Ruggless at ronald.ruggless@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @RonRuggles