Supporting Americans in unprecedented times

A letter from Starbucks ceo Kevin Johnson to Congress

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi and Leader McCarthy,

Over the course of the past 11 months, all of humanity has united behind our common cause to contain and mitigate the COVID-19 virus. I have found, in our collective resilience and determination, a lot to be optimistic about. However, as we look to the future, it’s clear that this global pandemic has presented the world and its leaders with unprecedented challenges that must be addressed both in the near- and long-term.

People around the world and in every American community are struggling with hardships caused, exacerbated, or simply made more visible by the pandemic. We share in the hope that the COVID-19 vaccines bring, but we know that until vaccines are broadly distributed in 2021, American families and small businesses will continue to face insurmountable hardships. Navigating this pandemic is intertwined with ensuring American prosperity; both must be addressed in tandem. 

This moment will require all leaders—from governments, businesses and communities—to come together to help address a common cause, just as we have done many times throughout American history. Starbucks urges Congress to take immediate bipartisan action to pass new COVID relief legislation to address the urgent needs in our communities, especially for the millions of Americans out of work, small businesses facing economic uncertainty and the public health needs of state and local governments on the front lines of the pandemic.

At Starbucks, we will continue to navigate this pandemic as we have since January, guided by three principles: 1) prioritizing the health and well-being of our partners (we refer to all Starbucks employees as “partners”) and customers; 2) playing a constructive role in supporting health and government officials as they work to mitigate the spread of this virus and 3) showing up in positive and responsible ways to serve our communities.

I have been awed and inspired by the way my Starbucks partners have shown up for their communities in the face of extraordinary circumstances. In return, we have taken action to support our partners because they are the heartbeat of our company. We provided catastrophe pay and service pay for partners whose stores were closed due to the pandemic and those unable to work due to effects of COVID, without any involuntary layoffs. We also recently shared one of our biggest wage investments of at least a 10 percent pay increase for our partners, all of whom already earn more than the minimum wage. With these investments, more than 30 percent of our U.S. retail partners are currently at or above $15/hour and we continue on our path to ensure all U.S. partners will be making at or above $15/hour within the coming two to three years. And as we always do, we will continue explore what more we can do to provide compensation and benefits in support of our partners.

Starbucks will also continue supporting customers and the communities we serve. Since the onset of COVID-19, Starbucks has remained close to national, state and local health officials to ensure our business decisions are anchored to and guided by facts and science. The store changes we have made prioritize customer safety while providing familiar experiences. The nearly 2 million cups of coffee we have provided to front-line healthcare workers and first-responders—as well as the 5 million meals we have donated through our FoodShare program and the $9 million The Starbucks Foundation has donated to COVID-19 relief efforts—have, I hope, set an example of putting people above profit.

Starbucks remains committed to the work ahead. We stand ready to partner with government officials at all levels to address the next phase of this pandemic recovery and serve as a beacon of warmth and welcome for all communities. Together, we have the opportunity to inspire the human spirit and demonstrate the resilience and courage that highlight the best of our people – and the best of our country. 

Thank you for your work on behalf of American families, businesses and communities.

With respect and gratitude,