Voicemail to Partners from Howard Schultz

Hello partners, this is Howard calling.

I am calling regarding the recent press coverage that mischaracterizes Starbucks position as it relates to California's court ruling in terms of the tipping issue and most recently the situation in Massachusetts over the last couple of days. Hopefully by now you have read the letter that I posted on Starbucks.com and the store partner portal last Friday that directly addresses the California courts ruling against Starbucks.

The ruling would take away the right of shift supervisors to receive the tips they earn for providing superior customer service.

I want you to know that we strongly believe that this ruling is extremely unfair and beyond reason. I could go on and on about how wrong I think it is.

Nevertheless, for the record and to really clarify the situation, Starbucks Coffee Company has never and will never take money from our baristas or any other Starbucks partners. This is so contrary to our values, our culture and just everything we stand for.

I can't tell you how much it upsets me that we are being so grossly mischaracterized in the newspapers by the media and I want to personally let you know that we would never condone any type of behavior that would lead anyone to conclude that we would take money from our people. When I read these headlines about Starbucks skimming or stealing from our partners it's just beyond my comprehension how irresponsible it is.

To the contrary, we put the highest priority for 35+ years on treating our partners with respect and dignity, and we do our best never to jeopardize the trust we have with one another. Are we a perfect company? Absolutely not. Do we make mistakes? Yes. But our heart has always been in the right place.

Now, unfortunately, there has been another copy-cat litigation, including the recent Massachusetts lawsuit that we have been advised about, but we have not yet been served and that has caused more press that has mischaracterized the situation.

The reason I am calling is that I want you to really understand the truth. I promise you that we will vigorously defend ourselves and appeal the recent California ruling as well as any other lawsuits that we believe are unjust.

We have built a wonderful company that all of you have helped to make successful, and I ask that you continue to do all the things that you do for Starbucks every day. I want you to hear my voice and understand both my concern about the mischaracterization, and most importantly, the truth, and really separate the fiction from the facts. So there you have it. I will leave it at that and if there are any questions or concerns, you can email me and I will respond and hopefully we will get through this in a way in which the truth will win out.