Starbucks decides to go beyond free coffee promo to end the shutdown

Starbucks decides to go beyond free coffee promo to end the shutdown
In this Wednesday, March 20, 2013, file photo, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks at the company's annual shareholders meeting,in Seattle.

Yesterday, Starbucks asked patrons to "pay it forward" to help set a good example for Congree and, hopefully, urge lawmakers to come to an agreement and end the government shutdown. Of course, it's going to take more than a free tall drip to solve the problem -- so now, CEO Howard Schultz is circulating a petition

"For the last few days, we at Starbucks have been wondering how we can use our scale for good," says Schultz in a taped message posted to the company's news site. 

What they've decided on, it appears, is a petition designed to let government officials know that civilians care about what's happening in Congress, and that they'd like it to be resolved.

Here's what Schultz has to say in the press release, which is a letter addressed to citizens:

"Dear Friends,

I am grateful to all of you for the outpouring of support and ideas regarding how we can best solve the current crisis of leadership in which we are now embroiled.

What has become clear to me over these past few days – aside from the continued dysfunction we see from our elected leaders -- is the sad and striking realization that the American people have no platform with which to voice their frustration with Washington and the current stalemate that threatens our nation."

Schultz then goes on to list what he'd like Congress to do.

"This is one area where we can help put our country back on the right track. Using our collective scale for good, this Friday Starbucks and others will distribute a petition (www.ComeTogetherPetition.com) asking Congress and the White House to:

  • First, reopen our government to serve the people
  • Second, pay our debts on time to avoid another financial crisis
  • Third, pass a bipartisan and comprehensive long-term budget deal by the end of the year."

His hope, the CEO goes on to say, is that Starbucks can "offer up its thousands of stores across the nation to give the millions of customers who come through our stores every week, and thousands of partners (employees) who serve them, an opportunity to have their voices heard by signing our petition."

This isn't the first time that Schultz has used his billion-dollar company's clout to try to incite change. In December, when the nation was on the brink of a government shutdown, he asked Washington D.C.-area baristas to write "Come Together" on drink cups, as a way to encourage lawmakers to cooperate, rather than argue. 

Prior to that, he has called for other wealthy business owners to stop contributing campaigns until politicians could put aside their differences and come up with a long-term fiscal solution. 

Schultz isn't shy about expressing his political opinions; in the last few months, he's come out in favor of same-sex marriage, and angered pro-gun organizations by asking patrons not to bring their firearms into Starbucks stores.

The petition will go live tomorrow.