'I earned it!' Starbucks CEO gets defensive after Bernie Sanders describes him as a 'billionaire'
Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, speaking with attendees at an event titled "From the Ground Up" at the Student Pavilion at Arizona State University. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz grew defensive on Wednesday when Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) accurately described him as a "billionaire."

During a hearing about Starbucks' efforts to block its stores from being unionized, Schultz slammed an attempt by Sanders to paint him as a privileged oligarch who had success handed to him early in life.

"I grew up in federally subsidized housing, my parents never owned a home, I came from nothing," Shultz said. "I thought that my entire life was based on the achievement of the American dream! Yes, I have billions of dollars -- I earned it! No one gave it to me. And I've shared it constantly with the people of Starbucks."

Schultz then directly addressed Sanders.

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"Your moniker... is unfair," he charged.

"No it is not!" Sanders shot back, and then informed him that it was now time to hear from other witnesses because "you're not the only person testifying."

At the start of the hearing, Sanders accused Schultz and Starbucks of waging "the most aggressive and illegal union-busting campaign in the modern history of our country."

Multiple Starbucks locations have voted to unionize over the past two years but so far the company has not recognized any of them as legitimate.

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