August 4, 2003

Whole Foods Workers Tell the Whole Story about Whole Foods

Worker Voices Censored by “”Vegetarian Times””

Whole Foods workers are exposing the whole truth about Whole Foods Markets. “”Take a look behind the company’s ‘core values’ veneer…its high polish ‘commitment’ to team member, communities, and customers”” ask Whole Foods workers in an ad campaign hitting news stands on Friday.

Ads will debut this week in the leading weekly papers in New York City, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle and Boulder, Colorado. Whole Foods workers are speaking out as part of a growing national movement for a voice with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW).

Whole Foods management promotes a set of ‘core values’ that shape the stores. Yet workers feel the company has abandoned those values and seek a voice with the UFCW to help keep the company focused on its founding principles.

The workers’ ad asks customers:

“”Have you ever talked with a Whole Foods worker who is trying to take the company’s glossy pronouncements seriously about respect for team members, self-direction, self-responsibility, open and timely information…workers who take the company at its word and attempt to create a quality work environment?””

Workers in Madison, Wisconsin kick-started the national movement by voting for UFCW Local 1444 representation on July 15, 2002. Despite Whole Foods’ stall tactics, the workers continue to bargain with them and are working toward reaching a first contract.

The Madison campaign leaders launched a website, where workers from the 142 Whole Foods stores can connect with each other and learn about taking action for a better workplace.

The National Labor Relations Board postponed the scheduled April 4 election at the Whole Foods store in Tyson’s Corner, Va., while it investigates charges that the company engaged in a variety of illegal activities designed to stop the employees’ organizing efforts, including:

  • Termination, surveillance and interrogation of pro-union employees.
  • Allowing anti-union literature to be circulated while at the same time blocking the distribution of pro-union literature.
  • Arbitrarily changing the schedules of pro-union employees to create hardships for working parents.
  • Illegal polling of the workers’ stance on the union through a purported “”contest,”” which awarded employees money for expressing anti-union views.

Employees at the Virginia store sought out UFCW Local 400 organizers last November over complaints of low pay and changes to health and insurance benefits, among other issues.

The growing movement of Whole Foods workers is reaching out to customers and community members for support in their effort to have a voice at work. The national newspaper ads calls on the public to email Whole Foods at and let the company know that the community supports the workers.

“”Vegetarian Times”” magazine silenced the voices of the Whole Foods employees by refusing to run the paid advertisement citing a close business and personal relationship with Whole Foods.

Whole Foods faces unfair labor charges for its campaign to suppress worker rights in Wisconsin and Virginia. New York City union members, labor leaders and elected officials will call on Whole Foods to respect local workers and consumers by lifting up workplace standards and obeying the law.

Click here to view a copy of the newspaper ad