Whole Foods vs. Unions

Photo courtesy of Whole Foods


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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