Whole Foods vs. Unions

Photo courtesy of Whole Foods

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In what’s being euphemistically dubbed the ‘third way’, the CEOs of Whole Foods, Costco, and Starbucks have joined together to lay out a ‘compromise‘ to the management/labor stand-off over the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). At issue is whether employees interested in forming a union would be allowed to choose their union formation process. Current law lets companies insist upon a secret-ballot election, even when employees would prefer a majority sign-up method.

I’m not going to restate the merits of labor’s position (you can read about it here and here) but surely we can agree that employees should be able to choose how they decide to form a union, right? Well, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey thinks it’s un-American.

Mackey said that binding arbitration is “not the way we
normally do things in the United States” and that allowing workers to
organize without a secret ballot “violates a bedrock principle of
American democracy.”

First, if Mackey thinks that binding arbitration isn’t the way we do things in the US, then perhaps he should try reading a copy of Mother Jones… after all, they’re sold at Whole Foods markets.

Second, Mackey’s tired canard has been debunked over and over. Even the Wall Street Journal editorial board, home of anti-labor commentary, finally admitted last week that the “the bill doesn’t remove the secret-ballot option.” Again, it merely allows employees to choose the union formation process.

So, why would “mission-driven” Whole Foods CEO John Mackey keep
repeating this worn out lie? I mean, I understand that he doesn’t like
unions, but he’s pissing off his good progressive customers who expect that the company’s motto—”Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet”—actually means something. This customer is not satisfied.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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