From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/food/exposed-how-whole-foods-and-biggest-organic-foods-distributor-are-screwing-workers
United Natural Foods Incorporated, the largest wholesale distributor of organic and “natural” foods in the U.S., is currently under investigation for 45 violations of federal labor law.
By Ronnie Cummins, Dave Murphy
January 31, 2013
This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.
“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.” — John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market
Whole Foods Market (WFM) CEO John Mackey has done a brilliant job of creating the illusion that his empire is all about abundance, bounty and the good life. But 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.
What happens when companies like WFM and UNFI, which have carefully cultivated their public progressive images, start acting like Walmart? When union-busting and labor exploitation are accepted as “business-as-usual” in the green economy, it makes us all look bad. It discredits organics and Fair Trade by creating the impression that consumers don’t really care how their healthy organic food was produced. That the entire industry cares only about profits. Ethics and workers be damned.
When flagship organic companies take a Walmart approach to workers’ rights, it sends negative and conflicting signals to core organic consumers, making it look like leaders in the organic community are concerned about the plight of endangered species and Third World coffee growers or cacao producers, but oblivious to the economic pain and stresses of working class Americans or hardworking immigrants who plant and harvest our organic fruits and vegetables and then pack and deliver them to our neighborhood co-ops and natural food markets.
Isn’t it time we ask the same of WFM and UNFI that we demand of ourselves: that they walk their talk, prioritize organic food and products, practice Fair Trade and social justice, and wake up to the fact that “business as usual” is a bitter recipe for injustice?
Continue reading at: http://www.alternet.org/food/exposed-how-whole-foods-and-biggest-organic-foods-distributor-are-screwing-workers