Whole Foods has had a pretty bad year. Its stock cratered in 2014, as lower-cost competitors undercut its prices. But now earnings are up, the stock is on the rise, and the company has a new problem: some of its workers would like a union.
After a strong earnings report this week, the company is busy touting its plans for expansion and reveling in its rising sales brought on by a new commitment to "value," rather than just [joke about kale being very expensive]. Revenue is up and Wall Street is happy with Whole Foods again—all because its strategy of attracting lower-income customers is now showing some success.
Whole Foods, despite its bourgeois reputation and popularity with America's suave liberals does not differ that much from Walmart when it comes to its labor practices. Its CEO John Mackey (pictured) has compared unions to herpes, and said just last year: "Our team members are not being prevented from joining unions, they've chosen not to...Why would they want to join a union? ... We're not so much anti-union as beyond unions."
Wrong you are, John Mackey! There is now an official movement on to unionize at least one Whole Foods store on 4th street in San Francisco. A press release that went out yesterday says that 20 workers held a rally and "initiated a temporary work stoppage to deliver a petition to Whole Foods management demanding a $5 an hour wage increase for all employees and no retaliation against workers for organizing a union." If they don't get a satisfactory response by November 14, they say, they will "begin taking job actions."
Whole Foods has historically been a well-rated place to work overall, but it has not been without employee critics. In a city as expensive as San Francisco, any retail workers would be smart to organize themselves.
Update: An organizer tells us that they're working with the IWW, considered to be one of the more radical progressive unions. They say they have not received any official response from store management yet.