News·6 min read

Daily Skimm Weekend: Starbucks and Better Sleep

Starbucks employees hold picket signs as they strike in front of a Starbucks store.
Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images
March 26, 2023


The Story

Starbucks has a latte to unpack.

Go on. 

On Wednesday, Starbucks’s longtime on-again, off-again CEO Howard Schultz, will testify before a US Senate committee about the company’s alleged union busting — after stepping down from the role for the third time. Since December 2021, employees at more than 280 of the company’s 9,000 corporate-owned stores have voted to unionize. It marks one of the most high-profile labor campaigns in decades. But none have successfully negotiated a contract with Starbucks yet. Workers are fighting for better pay and benefits, guaranteed hours and more consistent schedules, improved store safety, and more. While Starbucks (and particularly, Schultz) have aggressively opposed union efforts. So much so that earlier this month, a federal labor judge ruled that the company had violated US labor laws “hundreds of times” and committed “egregious and widespread misconduct” while trying to stop the union campaigns. Last week, Schultz stepped down even earlier than expected as interim CEO.

But now he’s testifying?

Yes. After Schultz had said ‘hard pass’ to previous invitations from Congress, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) scheduled a vote for a subpoena — which surprise, surprise is when Schultz agreed to testify. Now, he’s expected to answer questions from Congress about the 500-plus charges of unfair labor practices filed by the union, as well as the National Labor Relations Board’s 80 complaints against Starbucks. Think: everything from retaliatory firings and store closures, to boosting pay and benefits for non-union workers. But if you think Starbucks is an outlier, sit back and pour yourself another cup.

Whew, proceed. 

Labor practices (and union busting) from major companies are under a microscope these days. It comes as support for unions among Americans has jumped to a record high of 71% — which experts say was partly fueled by unprecedented working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic and a supportive political environment. But some companies say they prefer to work directly with employees. In the meantime, little fires are erupting everywhere, including a reported rift among Amazon union organizers, strikes from LA school teachers, and an upcoming strike authorization vote at American Airlines. As for Starbucks? Wednesday’s hearing is expected to be more loaded than Pedro Pascal’s coffee order.


The state of unions in America is still tumultuous — and Starbucks, due to its massive corporate footprint, is front and center this week. Many are waiting to see what Schultz has to say, while organizers hope that raising standards at Starbucks could spill over to the rest of the fast-food industry.

What's Happening

In news...

President Biden has issued a disaster declaration for Mississippi, where deadly storms killed at least 26 people — clearing the way for federal aid for recovery efforts. It comes after he took his first presidential trip to Canada, where he and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an agreement that’s intended to slow the surge of unofficial border crossings. In other news abroad, nationwide protests continue in France (over pension changes) and Israel (over judicial changes). Back at home, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a student with a disability — which could give parents more room to negotiate with public schools over assistance for children in similar situations. While Wyoming banned transgender athletes from girls’ sports teams. Speaking of sports, for the first time since 2007, ​​UConn’s women’s basketball team won’t be headed to the Final Four. But its men’s team will be. And a new report found that efforts to ban books reached a record high last year.

In business...

Google released Bard, it’s AI chatbot — though it’s not quite speaking in iambic pentameter yet. Anyone who’s ever struggled to cancel a subscription (so, everyone) may soon get much-needed help, thanks to a proposed FTC rule. And potential home buyers finally got a break: US mortgage rates fell for the second week in a row — and so did median home prices, for the first time in over a decade. Plus, there’s also good news for job seekers, pay transparency is reportedly spreading, even in states that don’t require it. Like everything else from the ’90s, Blockbuster could be making a comeback. And, in a bunch of car news, Chevy is putting the brakes on its iconic Camaro muscle car. Ford is expecting to lose billions on electric vehicles this year. And Hyundai and Kia are recalling more than half a million of their cars.

In health...

Surprise, the pandemic slowed down America’s step count — and it still hasn’t recovered. In other COVID news, new research says long COVID is less likely if you’re vaccinated or take Paxlovid. And the White House will disband its pandemic response team in May. Meanwhile, lawmakers are trying to ban chemicals in Skittles that could be dangerousand the CDC is investigating three deaths thought to be caused by bacterial infections from eye drops. Oh and researchers got into a hairy situation to figure out the cause of Beethoven’s death.


Here's a look at the reads we’ve saved, texted, and emailed to our friends…

The Best Reality TV Drama Is Actually Happening on Podcasts…these days, stars are spilling their secrets even before TV episodes air.

Will the Ozempic Era Change How We Think About Being Fat and Being Thin?...newly popular meds used for weight loss mean people aren’t willing to “just be happy with the body they have.” Is that a good thing?

I Went on a Package Trip for Millennials Who Travel Alone. Help Me…how to make friends and win at everything.

Plastic Surgery Hasn’t Always Welcomed Black Folks — It’s Time for a Shake-Up…turns out, the world of cosmetic surgery has a lot of changes to make.

Sunday Scaries, Who?

Here’s one tip for a better start to your week.

It’s no secret: Anxieties from the day can pile up late at night — causing you to struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep. But rest easy, because there are ways to set yourself up for (sleep) success. Here are a few:

  • Cut down on the coffee. No, you don’t have to go cold turkey — but too much caffeine late in the day can set you up for a restless night. If you must indulge, keep in mind that caffeine can disrupt your sleep up to six hours after consuming it. So if you want to go to bed by 9 pm, try and have your last latte by 3 pm.

  • Naps might be traps. It’s true that short naps can help you catch up on sleep and feel less cranky. But longer naps and napping later in the day can make it harder to sleep. So ditch naps, or keep them short and early in the day.

  • Set the stage. The ideal temperature for a good night’s sleep exists — really — and it is 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Other things that your bedroom might benefit from: Blackout curtains or shades if light comes in through your window. A white noise machine to help lull you to sleep. And lightbulbs that give off a yellow glow, rather than blue or white light.

  • Have a routine. To help your body and mind start to wind down, prepare for bedtime with a relaxing activity like reading a book or meditating. Also, speaking of bedtimes: They aren’t just for kids. Going to bed at the same time each night will help maintain your circadian rhythm.

  • Try lucid dreaming. If you want to be an overachiever even while you’re sleeping, try to train yourself to lucid dream. Aka, having control over the storylines your subconscious creates while you snooze. Some say it helps support creativity and awareness, while reducing anxiety.

Live Smarter

Sign up for the Daily Skimm email newsletter. Delivered to your inbox every morning and prepares you for your day in minutes.