Whole Foods workers at numerous stores across the country, including locations in New York City, Chicago, Louisiana, and California have tested positive for Covid-19. In each of these locations, the stores have remained open, leading some employees to charge that Whole Foods has failed to prioritize their safety during a period of record sales for the company. The sick-out will be Tuesday, March 31st. Read more from Vice here.
Garments made in Bangladeshi factories that major retailers have banned as unsafe are finding their way onto Amazon's site for sale in the U.S. The Wall Street Journal investigates Amazon's apparel supply chains and the impact of its marketplace on garment factory workers. See the video here.
Whole Foods says its mission is to “nourish people and the planet,” but workers at farms that supply the organic-grocery empire are often overworked and poorly treated, an investigation by Oxfam found.
Workers on sweet-potato farms in North Carolina that supply the Amazon.com Inc.–owned grocer reportedly put in 14-hour days in “oppressive heat with few rest breaks” and often with “very limited access to toilets,” according to the report. Read more from MarketWatch here.
Democracy Now discusses recent open rescues and investigations into factory farms that supply corporations like Whole Foods and Amazon. Watch part 2 of the report here.
Gizmodo reported today that a leaked 45-minute training video for Amazon managers takes an "aggressive" stance on quelling interest in organized labor at its facilities. According to Gizmodo, the video was sent last week to Team Leaders at the Whole Foods grocery chain, which Amazon purchased last year, and where employees have reportedly been considering union membership for themselves.
Read more from Forbes here.
Amazon is also wreaking havoc on the environment, and its delivery vehicles are generating untold amounts of greenhouse gases, ozone and particulate matter. California environmental advocates are taking on this challenge to protect the air quality in communities living with these warehouses in their backyards. Read more from truth out.org here.
A Whole Foods Market Group policy that bars employees from recording is unlawful and could create a “chill” for workers to express their rights, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld a National Labor Relations Board decision that said instructions in the national grocer’s handbook violated the National Labor Relations Act, which guarantees workers the right to engage in protected concerted activity, including the discussion of terms and condition of their employment. Read more from The National Law Journal here.
"Whereas the culture of 'Values Matter' and 'Conscious Capitalism' used to allow team members to feel the values of the place they worked reflected their own and fostered their personal and professional development, it has become a traditional capitalist culture of fear mongering and exploitation." Read the story from Truth-Out Here.
Sheila Payne stands outside Whole Foods Market on a sweltering day. People hurry in and out of the store, eager to escape the heat, but Payne hasn't come to shop. She and three other activists are informing customers that the nation's largest chain of natural food groceries has refused to sign a pledge supporting better wages and working conditions for California strawberry pickers.
Going after the UFW: When activists were passing out literature outside Whole Foods market about the UFW grape boycott, Whole Foods called the cops on them and had them arrested. Embarrassed by the public outcry, Whole Foods promised to honor the boycott and stop selling non-union California table grapes. Whole Foods later broke its promise when they moved their store a couple of blocks away, saying the agreement applied only to the old store.
Whole Foods attacks environmentalists: Whole Foods has taken a similar hard-line stance against environmentalists working to protect sea turtles. An estimated 150,000 endangered turtles drown in shrimp nets each year, according to the Earth Island Institute, a San Francisco-based organization that led the campaign for dolphin-safe tuna. But when the group approached Whole Foods to request the chain carry only shrimp caught in nets certified to protect sea turtles, chief executive officer John Mackey once again sided with industry and blasted the activists. "We will not be coerced by Earth Island Institute or anyone else to support advocacy programs against our will," Mackey e-mailed the group. "Your attacks on Whole Foods Market are strategic mistakes." Earth Island has responded by picketing Whole Foods stores in California, Texas and Delaware. "I thought this would be right up their alley," says Todd Steiner, who directs the sea turtle program. "They claim to be really progressive, but their seafood counters are a big part of their profit margin. They've determined that this won't help their bottom line -- and their bottom line is more important to them than doing the right thing for the environment."
The entire article can be found here at the Organic Consumers Association.
As the Texas Observer argued recently, “People shop at Whole Foods not just because it offers organic produce and natural foods, but because it claims to run its business in a way that demonstrates a genuine concern for the community, the environment, and the ‘whole planet,’ in the words of its motto. In reality, Whole Foods has gone on a corporate feeding frenzy in recent years, swallowing rival retailers across the country…. The expansion is driven by a simple and lucrative business strategy: high prices and low wages.”
May 8, 2009 Article in CounterPunch