Video: ‘I came from nothing’ Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz Battles Bernie Sander’s in Senate Hearing

Former Starbucks CEO and Presidential hopeful Howard Schultz got into a heated exchange with Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. during a Senate hearing for the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which Sanders chairs.

Schultz butted heads with Sanders after taking exception with Sanders repeated use of the word ‘billionaire’ to describe him, expressing frustration that Sanders was using it negatively.

‘This moniker of billionaire, let’s just get at that,’ Schultz responded. ‘I grew up in federally subsidized housing. My parents never owned a home. I came from nothing. I thought my entire life was based on the achievement of the American dream.’

‘Yes, I have billions of dollars; I earned it. No one gave it to me, and I’ve shared it constantly with the people of Starbucks.’ He further said.

While Schultz has repeatedly touted his humble beginnings, some people have attempted to cast doubt on them.

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‘Howard Schultz makes it sound like a slum, but you couldn’t be poor to live there,’ one former neighbor told the Washington Post. ‘Don’t let Howard fool you: It was brand new, a beautiful new place with new kitchens, new plumbing. We’re excited that he’s running (for the presidency), but I yell at the TV when he says this stuff.’

A spokesperson for Schultz said the rent at his family’s Brooklyn apartment was $100 a month, an amount which his family often struggled to pay – and said ‘any insinuation that Howard didn’t grow up in an economically distressed environment is more of a comment on the state of our politics than it is about the economics of his family.’

The primary reason for bringing Schultz to the hearing was reportedly to grill him about ‘union busting’ activities during his tenure as CEO of Starbucks.

Before the Senate Thursday, Schultz faced allegations that his team refused to negotiate with union organizers, and he was questioned about his attitude towards unions.

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‘Over the past 18 months, Starbucks has waged the most aggressive and illegal union-busting campaign in the modern history of our country,’ said Sanders, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, as the session got underway.

Sanders has been a vocal supporter of Starbucks’ unionization efforts, as he and members of ‘The Squad’ in the house have regularly engaged in labor activism.

Schultz defended his tenure as CEO of Starbucks, saying that he felt he was doing what was right for the company and its employees at the time.

‘I was the company’s CEO, and I have the preference and the right to communicate to people what is right for Starbucks.’ He said during the hearing.

Union organizers believe incoming CEO Laxman Narasimhan will be more amenable to their demands.

‘We are hopeful that Laxman Narasimhan will chart a new path with the union and work with us to make Starbucks the company we know it can be,’ Michelle Eisen, a Starbucks worker and union organizer, said in a statement this week.

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