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March 29, 2023
What A Day
Schultz's Medium Roast

In This Episode

  • Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz testified before the Senate HELP Committee on Wednesday. Lawmakers questioned him about the coffee chain’s union-busting activities that have been recorded and reviewed by the National Labor Relations Board over the past several months.
  • The Senate voted 66-30 to repeal authorizations for the use of military force against Iraq. The vote follows the 20th anniversary of the 2003 Iraq invasion, and its repeal would prevent presidents, current and future, from taking military action abroad without Congressional approval.
  • And in headlines: Pope Francis was hospitalized with a respiratory infection, the Manhattan grand jury investigating Donald Trump will go on a one-month hiatus, and the FDA approved the over-the-counter sale of Narcan.


Show Notes:



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Priyanka Arbindi: It’s Thursday, March 30th. I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


Juanita Tolliver: And I’m Juanita Tolliver. And this is What A Day. Where we asked for April Fool’s Day to be on a weekend this year so we wouldn’t have to cover the foolishness. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Yeah, no offense, whoever does social media for our nation’s top fast food brands, we’re just not here for it. 


Juanita Tolliver: We love jokes, but we’ll see you Monday. [laughter]


Priyanka Arbindi: We love jokes. [music break] On today’s show, the Manhattan grand jury investigating Donald Trump is taking a break for most of next month. Plus, a March filled with madness is about to end for college hoops anyways. 


Juanita Tolliver: But first, yesterday, the Senate Health Committee hosted the Sanders Schultz showdown that has been a long time coming. Now, it wasn’t the WrestleMania pay per view event many had predicted, but former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz was questioned about the union busting activities that have been recorded and reviewed by the National Labor Relations Board. Senator Sanders came in hot with a few call outs during his opening statements. Take a listen to how he set the tone for the hearing. 


[clip of Senator Bernie Sanders] Over the past 18 months. Starbucks has waged the most aggressive and illegal union busting campaign in the modern history of our country. That union busting campaign has been led by Howard Schultz, the multi-billionaire founder and director of Starbucks, who is with us this morning. Only under the threat of subpoena. Let us be clear about the nature of Starbucks vicious anti-union efforts. The National Labor Relations Board, NLRB, has filed over 80 complaints against Starbucks for violating federal labor law. There have been over 500 unfair labor practice charges lodged against the company, and judges have found that Starbucks broke the law 130 times across six states since workers began organizing in the fall of 2021. 


Juanita Tolliver: I mean, when the hearing is called, quote, “no company is above the law.” The need to end illegal union busting at Starbucks. The senator’s framing was pretty on point. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Yeah, it does not get clearer than that. So how did Schultz respond to all of this and the questions from the Democrats on the committee? 


Juanita Tolliver: Well, when I tell you, this man was smug. Oh, my God. What you didn’t hear in that clip was when he was smirking as Senator Sanders emphasized that he was only at the hearing because of the threat of subpoena. And he was taking casual sips from his Starbucks mugs. And he was like really giving Scrooge to a tee. It was cringe. Every bit of it was cringe. 


Priyanka Arbindi: That’s so crazy to me. 


Juanita Tolliver: On top of all of that, he denied any and all wrongdoing. So take a listen to this exchange between Schultz and Sanders. 


[clip of Senator Bernie Sanders] Were you ever informed of or involved in a decision to fire a worker who was part of a union organizing drive? 


[clip of Howard Schultz] I was not. 


[clip of Senator Bernie Sanders] Were you ever informed of or involved in a decision to discipline a worker in any way who was part of a union organizing drive? 


[clip of Howard Schultz] I was not. 


[clip of Senator Bernie Sanders] Have you ever threatened, coerced or intimidated a worker for supporting a union? 


[clip of Howard Schultz] I’ve had conversations that could have been interpreted in a different way than I intended. That’s up to the person who received the information that I spoke to them about. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Oof. 


Juanita Tolliver: Really? Really? I did nothing wrong. I never fired any unionizing workers. I might have been misinterpreted. Cool. Cool. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Got it. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right? Like, that’s what he’s giving. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Wild. That is so wild. 


Juanita Tolliver: Like, it’s pretty ridiculous. 


Priyanka Arbindi: All while he’s sipping from his mug. 


Juanita Tolliver: With the pinky raised, no less. Okay. [laughing] But Schultz also doubled down on refusing to read a statement outlining workers rights to unionize as ordered by an administrative law judge, as he maintains that, quote, “Starbucks coffee company did not break the law.” And there was also this moment of complete ridiculousness when Schultz took issue with being called what he is a multi-billionaire. Listen to this. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Oh, God. 


[clip of Howard Schultz] Yes, I have billions of dollars. I earned it. No one gave it to me. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Oof. 


[clip of Howard Schultz] And I’ve shared it. Constantly– 


[unknown speaker] [?] custody. 


[clip of Howard Schultz] –with the people of Starbucks. 


Priyanka Arbindi: My guy. 


Juanita Tolliver: Like, really, you’re on the defensive? You can’t make this shit up. Like, does he expect us to empathize with him at this point? 


Priyanka Arbindi: It’s just a fact. Like, I feel like there is really, like, no way to uh piss off a billionaire quite like, telling them they’re a billionaire or, like, asserting that to them. Like, they get really defensive about it. It’s real weird. 


Juanita Tolliver:  Right. So that was his posture, really defensive and really smug. So mm hell of a combo. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Ugh, yeah. Okay. So if that was the line of questioning from Democrats, what were the Republicans on this committee asking Schultz, like, I don’t even really want to know. 


Juanita Tolliver: Girl, you know, Republicans love a multibillionaire, so they did the– 


Priyanka Arbindi: I know. 


Juanita Tolliver: –absolute least. And honestly showered Schultz with praise. Senator Mitt Romney dropped a favorite line among the ultra wealthy when he said, quote, “It’s somewhat rich, rich that you’re being grilled by people who have never had the opportunity to create a single job.” Senator Bill Cassidy chimed in to declare that the NLRB is, quote, “violating its own procedures somehow, some way.” Really. But both of them sound so detached from reality and the plight of workers, especially when the National Labor Relations Board has reportedly issued 83 legal complaints against the company so far in response to 513 unfair labor practice charges. So I’m expecting more complaints to come down the pipe on this. But what I am happy about today is that unionized Starbucks workers from across the country were able to attend these hearings and address the committee so that Schultz and these out-of-touch GOP senators had to see their faces and hear their stories. There’s no way that they can ignore workers like Maggie Carter, who talked about how her manager gave her next to no choice during the pandemic when she requested a transfer, and how regional leadership would build cases against individual workers who voted to unionize, or Jason Saxton, who described the extremely tense environment where stores were taken over by interim management teams that monitored workers and literally took notes on the things that they would say during their shifts with the intention of firing them. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Yeah, that’s not good. 


Juanita Tolliver: Like it’s ridiculous to have to work in these type of environments and this type of harassment has got to stop. I honestly hope that this Senate hearing and the complaints to the NLRB actually yield change and accountability for Starbucks, as well as protections for workers in general. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Yeah, totally. I mean, obviously Starbucks first and foremost. But there are so many other companies that are trying to do this exact same thing, looking at Starbucks and being like, can we get away with it? They’re doing it. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Arbindi: And I feel like this is a big opportunity to set the record straight. So I really hope that that’s what happens. Anyways elsewhere on the Hill, the Senate voted yesterday 66 to 30, across party lines to repeal authorizations for the use of military force against Iraq. This vote follows the 20th anniversary of the 2003 Iraq invasion. Its repeal would prevent presidents current and future from taking military action in Iraq without congressional approval. 


Juanita Tolliver: Look, I think this is long overdue. Like– 


Priyanka Arbindi: Yup. 


Juanita Tolliver: –couldn’t have happened sooner, 20 years sooner, in fact. But– 


Priyanka Arbindi: Seriously. 


Juanita Tolliver: Can you get us up to speed on AUMFs as they’re known and which ones this repeal applies to? 


Priyanka Arbindi: Yeah. So obviously the power to declare war lies with Congress, but an AUMF gives presidents the power to authorize more limited military action. But I mean, limited does not really do too much here. Like the– 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Arbindi: –Iraq war was huge [laugh], very costly, very deadly– 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Arbindi: –and authorized entirely on this. But anyways in this case, especially, the authorization lasts far longer than the issues that prompted them in the first place. So back in 2002, the AUMF at the center of this bill gave then-President George W. Bush the authority to invade Iraq on the false pretense that Saddam Hussein’s regime had weapons of mass destruction. They did not. 


Juanita Tolliver: No, they did not. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Yeah, it is it’s very widely accepted as a huge mistake that we should not have done this. It was extremely deadly, extremely costly and very bad. This bill also repeals the 1991 AUMF that authorized the Gulf War. But I will note that both of these are very different than the AUMF that directly followed 9/11 in 2001 that specifically targeted terrorist groups. That’s the one that people refer to as a blank check. It’s been used to back military action around the world by presidents that have followed Bush. Um. And it’s very unlikely that that’s going anywhere anytime soon, though some Democrats do hope to rewrite that one after repealing this one. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah, thanks for breaking down the difference between those two, because they are extremely different. And I also got a shout out our friend of the WAD, Representative Barbara Lee, who was the– 


Priyanka Arbindi: Oh yeah. 


Juanita Tolliver: –lone dissenting vote in the House on that one. So huge deal. But let’s talk about timing. Why is Congress doing this right now? 


Priyanka Arbindi: Yeah, I mean, this is not the first time that people have tried to repeal the 2002 AUMF. It’s been a long time that this has been in place. And, you know, it’s far outlasted the length of that war. The Democratic led House voted to repeal it back in 2021. They had the support of 49 Republicans at the time, but it did not get a vote in the Senate. Obviously, Iraq didn’t have WMDs that were at the heart of this particular authorization, so not based in fact, but also, as I was saying, extremely outdated. The Iraq war officially ended in 2011. With this still in place it could be used to justify or support the justification of far reaching military actions by presidents way beyond its original scope, which it actually has been. Trump used it in 2020 to assassinate Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. During the Obama administration it was used to justify airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Opponents of this repeal basically say that, you know, presidents need this flexibility like to be able to act quickly what not. But I mean, this is just totally not relevant to giving them that like- 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. 


Priyanka Arbindi: –this is so tailored to a specific thing that has been over for so long. But the Biden administration supports this effort to repeal these AUMFs. They say its repeal would have, quote, “no impact on current U.S. military operations.” So nothing to worry about, you know, disruption wise there and they’re very on board with getting rid of it and doing things by the book. 


Juanita Tolliver: I’m glad the Biden administration is on board, but I don’t expect House Republicans to be on board. So we know that this House conference has been kind of wild from jump. So what’s the likelihood of this actually getting repealed and passing through the House? 


Priyanka Arbindi: Who knows? As you said, I mean, there’s Speaker Kevin McCarthy who’s actually signaled support for it. So, I mean, TBD there. But as we all know about Kevin McCarthy, he is leading a caucus that does not exactly follow what he has to say. 


Juanita Tolliver: That part. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Not exactly respect him very much. And there are a bunch of nuts who God only knows, God only knows what they will do about anything. So obviously, we will keep following this. But that is the latest for now. We’ll be back after a quick ad break. [music break]. 




Priyanka Arbindi: Let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Pope Francis was hospitalized in Rome on Wednesday with a respiratory infection, according to a statement from the Vatican it is not due to COVID, but the 86 year old has had difficulty breathing recently and will need a few days of, quote, “appropriate medical therapy,” the report comes at one of the busiest times of the year for the pope with a Palm Sunday mass coming up this weekend with Holy week and Easter just around the corner. Maybe Balenciaga can gift him an actual puffer so he can bundle up– 


Juanita Tolliver: I mean. 


Priyanka Arbindi: –amid his busy schedule. I was so sad to see that that picture was fake. I really believed in my heart that he looked fantastic. I loved the look. 


Juanita Tolliver: A small island nation in the South Pacific that is directly threatened by climate change may soon get its day in court. The United Nations yesterday voted to allow Vanuatu to present its case for survival to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, namely to argue that higher income countries must be held accountable for contributing to global warming. It’s well documented that poorer countries are bearing the brunt of human driven climate change, even though they produce far less pollution. Case in point, Vanuatu has been battling rapid sea level rise and more frequent storms, with some projections estimating that some of its islands could be completely underwater within the next few decades and some villages are already uninhabitable. And speaking of the countries fueling the crisis, the Biden administration announced that it will auction off more than 70 million acres within the Gulf of Mexico for offshore oil and gas drilling– 


Priyanka Arbindi: What? 


Juanita Tolliver: You can thank Senator Joe Manchin, fuck that guy for this one. [sigh] He forced the auction into last year’s Inflation Reduction Act in exchange for his support for the bill. Let’s let’s a couple of things here. Really, Joe Manchin, this is your priority? Okay. And number two, didn’t we just have that massive oil spill like– 


Priyanka Arbindi: Yeah. 


Juanita Tolliver: –thirteen years ago in the Gulf of Mexico? I’m sure the local environment has not recovered from any of that to allow this type of auction and sale and use of that land. Sickening. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Yeah. That is so crazy. I cannot even begin to explain how wild and nuts it is that they have to do this. Looks like the indictment forecasters were wrong because the Manhattan grand jury investigating Donald Trump’s alleged role in a hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels will not hear more evidence until at least late April, according to sources familiar with the matter, the panel is going on a preplanned one month hiatus, which in turn delays any possible indictment of the former president. It’s possible that the grand jury’s schedule could change, but as of now, its members are not scheduled to meet until after Passover. 


Juanita Tolliver: The FDA on Wednesday approved the over-the-counter sale of Narcan, a lifesaving medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose. Narcan is basically the nasal spray version of Naloxone, which as of last year, anyone could get without a prescription. Though individual states have different rules on how to get it, and many pharmacies have opted not to carry it. But the FDA’s approval allows the drug to be sold at convenience stores, grocery stores, and even vending machines. Narcan is expected to become more widely available by late summer, though the costs of the drug may vary from state to state. And it’s not clear if most health insurance policies will cover the over-the-counter version. However, it’s a big step for harm reduction, and advocates say making the medication more accessible will help reduce the number of opioid overdose deaths nationwide. According to the FDA, drug overdoses killed more than 100,000 people last year alone. It’s truly tragic. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Yeah, this is a huge deal. I mean. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Arbindi: As you said, a huge step in harm reduction and really hope that the insurance companies step up and– 


Juanita Tolliver: Get it together. 


Priyanka Arbindi: –cover this and make this something. Yeah. That people can afford it because this is really, really important life saving stuff. Your March Madness may turn into March sadness when you realize how quickly the month long college basketball tournament has slipped through time’s hourglass. We didn’t even notice.


Juanita Tolliver: Girl. Not a blip on my radar. [laughter]


Priyanka Arbindi: This weekend marks the penultimate challenge for the men’s and women’s NCAA basketball tournament. What started as 68 teams from America’s colleges has now narrowed to a surprising field of four for both brackets. On the men’s side, for the first time ever, no teams from the tournament’s top three seeds advance to the semifinals. Meanwhile, on the women’s side, Friday night’s Final Four games will be the first in 38 years to not include the Goliath programs of Tennessee, Stanford or UConn. And that is kind of a big deal. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yeah. 


Priyanka Arbindi: While the men’s tournament is known for its upsets and Cinderella stories. There has historically been less opportunity for rising programs in the women’s tournament. The winners of Friday’s matchups will face each other in the women’s NCAA championship game at this Sunday in Dallas. No matter who takes the title this weekend between the pending Mifepristone ruling in the state and the movement on their own anti-drag bill, the real winner here will be any woman who still manages to have a good time in Texas. 


Juanita Tolliver: When I tell you, these coaches are probably like, stay in your room. Stay in the hotel. Do not leave. It ain’t safe. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Don’t do shit. 


Juanita Tolliver: Texas ain’t safe. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Uh uh. 


Juanita Tolliver: You cannot have any fun here. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Get out of there as quickly as possible. Play the game and leave. 


Juanita Tolliver: Safety first girls. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Truly. And those are the headlines. 




Juanita Tolliver: And one last thing before we go. WAD is going to take a short break tomorrow to celebrate Cesar Chavez Day, we’ll be back with a new episode on Monday, April 3rd. [music break]


Priyanka Arbindi: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Be the Cinderella of basketball and tell your friends to listen. 


Juanita Tolliver: And if you’re into reading and not just April Fools Day pranks that are clearly lies like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Juanita Tolliver.


Priyanka Arbindi: I’m Priyanka Aribindi. 


[spoken together] And si se puede!


Juanita Tolliver: When I tell you I’m so grateful for Cesar Chavez. I’m so grateful for farmworkers, agricultural workers like we can’t eat without you. 


Priyanka Arbindi: Totally. 


Juanita Tolliver: Yes. 


Priyanka Arbindi: We rely on you more than you know. 


Juanita Tolliver: Right. [music break]


Juanita Tolliver: What A Day is a production of Crooked Media, it’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Raven Yamamoto is our associate producer. Our head writer is Jocey Coffman and our executive producer is Lita Martinez. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka. [music break]