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Updated: Fri, 11 Oct 2013 09:18:36 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Starbucks petition urges Washington to end shutdown



A customer sips a Starbucks coffee in this photo taken in Miami in 2011. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is this week urging Washington to end the government shutdown and the company is offering a petition to its customers. The Associated Press/Alan Diaz

A customer sips a Starbucks coffee in this photo taken in Miami in 2011. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is this week urging Washington to end the government shutdown and the company is offering a petition to its customers. The Associated Press/Alan Diaz

Starbucks is offering customers in the U.S. a political petition, along with their morning brew, that urges Washington to get over their differences and end the government shutdown.

Full-page advertisements appeared this week in the New York Times and Washington Post, and the website of the coffee company, which started in Seattle in 1971 and now has 17,000 locations worldwide, tells customers to sign the "Come Together Petition."

It reads: "To our leaders in Washington, D.C., now's the time to come together to: reopen our government to serve the people; pay our debts on time to avoid another financial crisis; pass a bipartisan, long-term budget deal by the end of the year."

Customers can sign the online petition or print off a copy, gather signatures and return it to the store.

The government shutdown, in its 11th day, was prompted by Congress failing to agree on a bill that would keep the government funded. The partial shutdown has put tens of thousands of federal employees deemed non-essential out of work and essential workers are on the job, but not getting paid.

Fears are rising that Congress might also fail to reach an agreement on raising the debt ceiling by Oct.17 when the government is expected to run out of money to pay its bills. The U.S. has never defaulted on its debt and some economists and the White House are warning the consequences would be "catastrophic." 

Debt default would be 'dire'

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said in an interview with CNN's Poppy Harlow that a debt default would have "dire" consequences and a significant effect on small and large businesses.

"No one will be immune and what’s so perverse is this is not something that has been invented. This is something that is self-induced, this is something that is just political," he said. "We have to bury the hatchet in terms of our political differences, have civil discourse, and let people get in a room and commit to themselves they’re not going to leave the room until they’ve solved the problem."

Schultz, who has led Starbucks as its CEO and president since 2008, isn't one to avoid weighing in on controversial topics. Just last month, he issued an open letter to Americans about gun control. He made a "respectful request" that customers leave their guns at home when they visit a Starbucks.

During the last battle over raising the debt ceiling in 2011, Schultz spoke out and called for a halt to political donations until lawmakers reached an agreement. Schultz, a registered Democrat, has not made any political donations since then.

On the current government shutdown and looming debt ceiling crisis, Schultz said he is not trying to assign blame to one party or the other.

"I’m not here to parse words about who is to blame and who is not. I think both parties need to come together today and solve this problem,” he told CNN. 

“I’m trying to leverage the Starbucks platform on behalf of the American people to extend their voices to Washington, to Congress, to Speaker [John] Boehner and the President of the United States and say, 'Listen to the people.' They deserve better than this, please solve their problems," he said.

Schultz hinted at the petition earlier this week when he posted a letter on the company's website promising "actions" to get a message across to Washington.

The CEO said in the letter that he was "utterly disappointed by the level of irresponsibility and dysfunction we are witness to with our elected political leadership."

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