Calling Out Whole Foods: Whole Foods Quietly Cutting Employee Free Choice

Source: Common Dreams

While Whole Foods CEO John Mackey recently publicly inflamed the health care debate, behind the scenes Whole Foods has been quietly dismantling a key piece of legislation that would make it easier for workers who want to form a union to do so.

Whole Foods and Starbucks are backing a “compromise” to strip the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) of a key provision. The so-called “card-check” provision would require employers to recognize its employees’ union once a majority has signed union authorization cards. Currently, employers often refuse to recognize new unions even if all their employees have signed up. New contracts often take years to negotiate, meanwhile workers are frequently subject to harassment and sometimes fired. The card-check provision is so central to this legislation, it has been called “the card-check bill.”

Food industry giants from WalMart, to meatpacking titans Smithfield, and Hormel, to McDonalds have sent out an army of lobbyists to fight the pro-union bill. WalMart has spent $10.5 million in federal PAC spending since 2000, plus contributions to other corporate front groups lobbying against the bill.

However, unlike out-and-out opponents of the legislation, Starbucks and Whole Foods have built labor friendly images by supporting fair-trade and offering better wages than some other chains, despite being aggressively anti-union. Now it appears the retailers are cashing in on that image to modify the EFCA and remain, as Mackey says, “100% union-free.”

The hypocrisy is not lost on Whole Foods’ employees – one states, people need “to know just how false their [Whole Foods’] ‘socially responsible’ image is, especially with regards to their own workers.”

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