Friday, February 1, 2013

Whole Foods CEO calls workers 'herpes'

Teamsters have a message for UNFI CEO Steve Spinner.

This is what Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey actually said:
The union is like having herpes. It doesn't kill you, but it's unpleasant and inconvenient, and it stops a lot of people from becoming your lover. 
Whole Foods and the suppliers it uses brutally exploit workers who harvest, process and distribute their organic food. The companies claim their employees are "family" and guarantee fair prices for workers in poor countries. But Whole Foods distributor UNFI has illegally fired 72 underpaid and overworked warehouse workers, members of Teamsters Local 117, for going out on a ULP strike.

As Organic Consumer points out,
WFM’s Whole Trade Guarantee, through a third-party verified program, supposedly ensures that producers and laborers in developing countries get an equitable price for their goods in a safe and healthy working environment.  But what about workers in the U.S.?
Call it virtual virtue.

In a story titled, "Exposed: How Whole Foods and the Biggest Organic Foods Distributor Are Screwing Workers." Alternet reports,
...there’s nothing bountiful or good about the way the second-largest non-unionized food retailer exploits workers. 
United Natural Foods Incorporated (UNFI), the largest multi-billion dollar wholesale distributor of organic and “natural” foods in the U.S., is currently under investigation for 45 violations of federal labor law, including physically threatening immigrant workers in California who were trying to form a union. 
The company recently fired its underpaid and overworked unionized workers at its Auburn, Wash., distribution center for going on strike, and illegally hired non-union replacement workers.
Organic Consumer has a point:
It’s time for WFM and UNFI to publicly acknowledge that Fair Trade principles and practices need to be implemented as part of their entire US/North American/global supply chain for food and organic and natural products, not just for the minority of products produced overseas and certified as Fair Trade.
Here's how you can help:
  • You can sign a petition here in support of the striking Teamsters at UNFI.
  • You can call UNFI manager Hank Heatherly at (253) 333-6769. Tell him to rehire the fired workers and return to the bargaining table immediately.
  • If you live in Washington State, and are willing to join in informational leafleting at Whole Foods Markets, sign up here.
  • You can donate to the Worker Hardship Fund here.