Former Starbucks main executive, Howard Schultz, has denied national busting successful his astir pointed nationalist comments yet connected the ongoing quality betwixt labour unions and the java elephantine successful the US.
Labour officials person repeatedly recovered that the steadfast has breached national laws successful its response, including wrongfully firing workers.
Mr Schultz, who stepped down arsenic brag this month, was called to look earlier Congress to reply for the findings.
He "unequivocally" denied the claims.
"Those are allegations and Starbucks has not breached the law," Mr Schultz said, adding that the disputes were inactive being litigated.
While Republicans mostly held backmost from criticism, Democrats challenged Mr Schultz's assertions that the institution was respecting idiosyncratic rights.
"It is akin to idiosyncratic ticketed for speeding 100 times saying I've ne'er violated the instrumentality due to the fact that each azygous clip the bull got it wrong," said Senator Chris Murphy. "That would not beryllium a believable contention."
The two-hour proceeding successful Washington comes much than a twelvemonth aft baristas astatine a Starbucks java store successful Buffalo voted to signifier a union, a measurement since taken by much than 270 stores, representing 7,000 people.
Starbucks has vigorously opposed the campaign, which has sparked a statement astir inequality and the workings of capitalism and threatened to tarnish the firm's estimation arsenic a progressive employer.
Mr Schultz, who led the institution for years and returned arsenic main enforcement past year, defended its practices, saying the national represented a tiny fraction of the company's much than 9,000 US stores and the steadfast had a close to stock its penchant that it person a "direct relationship" with its staff.
He said the institution offered starring benefits, including mean hourly wages supra $17, entree to wellness insurance, assemblage tuition enactment and banal grants.
"It's unprecedented and it's wherefore we don't request a union," helium said. Mr Schultz, who remains a Starbucks committee member, aboriginal challenged lawmakers: "Are you alert of a national declaration that has those benefits?"
At times, the proceeding grew testy arsenic Mr Schultz, who grew up successful subsidised lodging and has flirted with moving for president, bristled astatine characterisations that helium was a heartless "billionaire".
"I came from nothing," helium said, adding that helium had earned his wealth, which Forbes estimates astatine astir $3.7bn. "It's unfair."
Democrats pressed Mr Schultz to explicate wherefore national members and the institution person yet to hold contracts and refused to widen raises and different perks granted to non-union unit past year.
He said the institution had met dozens of times and was consenting to negociate with workers, but did not privation to bargain connected video calls, disquieted it could not corroborate who was participating.
He said the institution did not person to widen benefits portion bargaining and did not privation to negociate a declaration "piecemeal".
Republicans focused their questions connected whether labour officials were biased against the firm, describing the hearing, which was convened by Senator Bernie Sanders, a "smear campaign".
"I americium not present to support Starbucks, I person my ain questions astir the alleged misconduct and the instrumentality should beryllium followed and upheld but let's not kid ourselves - this is not a just and impartial hearing," said Republican Senator Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.
Mr Schultz's two-hour grounds was followed by a panel, which included workers progressive successful the campaign.