Press Releases

Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien Testifies at HELP Committee Hearing

SMO HELP Testimony

Teamsters Criticize Weak Labor Law Enforcement, Howard Schultz a No-Show

Press Contact: Kara Deniz Phone: (202) 497-6610 Email:

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien testified at a hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP). The committee hearing — “Defending the Right of Workers to Organize Unions Free from Illegal Corporate Union-Busting” — was initiated by HELP Committee Chair Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in response to unlawful anti-union activity at Starbucks, Amazon, and other multi-billion-dollar corporations.

“There are no meaningful consequences for businesses and CEOs like Starbucks and Howard Schultz when they break our labor laws,” O’Brien said. “When any employer — be they rail carriers, package companies, or coffee shops — gets away with repeated abuse of American workers, the legislators who let it happen are complicit in these crimes.”

O’Brien gave extensive testimony to senators about the various ways that corporations break the law with impunity and shut down operations in response to union organizing and collective bargaining efforts, often with no consequences. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) pointed to Energizer Holdings’ recent decision to shutter two Teamster-represented battery facilities in Wisconsin and ship them out of state as an example of this. Weeks prior to its decision to kill 600 union jobs, Energizer submitted a request for a taxpayer-funded federal grant.

“Unions provide the job security and wages necessary for workers to develop the skills and institutional knowledge that are the bedrock of innovation,” Baldwin said. “The American people should not have to subsidize billion-dollar corporations that ship jobs overseas or close union facilities just to add pennies to next [fiscal] quarter’s earnings per share.”

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler and Service Employees International Union International President Mary Kay Henry also testified. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is expected to appear in front of the committee at a later date. He initially refused to testify but was compelled by a possible subpoena.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.2 million hardworking people in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Visit to learn more. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at