NEW YORK — Starbucks, the
world’s biggest coffee chain, said Thursday that it will ask customers and businesses to sign a petition calling for an end to the partial government shutdown that has forced hundreds of thousands of federal workers off the job.
The petition, which will be available at all Starbucks’ 11,000 U.S. locations to sign beginning Friday, calls for reopening the government, paying debts on time and passing a long-term budget deal by the end of the year.
In addition to Starbucks customers, the company is trying to get the chief executives of the nation’s largest companies to sign.
The move is unusual for a company such as Seattle-based Starbucks.
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While big brands generally steer clear of politics to avoid alienating customers, Starbucks and its chief executive, Howard Schultz, in recent years have run toward the spotlight by trying to gain a voice in national political issues.
Because the company’s efforts are generally nonpartisan and unlikely to cause controversy, marketing and corporate-image experts say they burnish Starbucks’ reputation as a socially conscious company.
Last month, Schultz asked customers not to bring guns into Starbucks stores.
Last December, the company asked employees to write “Come together” on cups to send a message to lawmakers about the damage being caused by the divisive negotiations over the “fiscal cliff,” a combination of tax and spending cuts that was scheduled to become effective Dec. 31, 2012.
In 2011, Schultz asked other chief executives to join him in halting campaign contributions until politicians stopped their partisan bickering over the debt ceiling, which led to a downgrade in the country’s credit rating.
The CEOs of more than 100 companies, from AOL to Zipcar, took the pledge. Also in 2011, Starbucks collected donations for a program to stimulate job growth.
The company made headlines Wednesday when it said it would give a free coffee to anyone in its stores who buys someone else’s order in a “pay-it-forward” gesture.