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Whole Foods Behaves Like Wal-Mart with its workers?

May 15, 2009
Whole Foods Market
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According to a recent article published by the Organic Consumer’s Association, Whole Foods is second only to Wal-Mart in company size that has fought off union representation.  Allegedly Whole Foods actively discourages union representation and fails to take care of its workers in a manner that has been compared with Wal-Mart’s worker policies.

Just when I thought I would pay more for higher prices at Whole Foods to support worker rights and fair wages, I find that I may not be getting what I am paying for:

As the Texas Observer argued recently, “People shop at Whole Foods not just because it offers organic produce and natural foods, but because it claims to run its business in a way that demonstrates a genuine concern for the community, the environment and the ‘whole planet,’ in the words of its motto. In reality, Whole Foods has gone on a corporate feeding frenzy in recent years, swallowing rival retailers across the country…The expansion is driven by a simple and lucrative business strategy: high prices and low wages.”

So now my high prices paid go to Mackey, the CEO and founder of Whole Foods?  Not exactly where I want them to go…  I love Whole Foods products, but I also loved the mission.  I don’t want to think that all of my consumptive choices wreak environmental  havoc, cause people in other countries to work at wages that would embarass us, and I certainly don’t want to think I am supporting it by paying high prices.

What gives, Whole Foods?  Why would Whole Foods be so afraid of unions if all their employees were happy?  I have looked for more Whole Foods stores in MI.  They seem to have many in the Detroit area, and none are on the west side of the state.  A local health food retail operation told me that when she spoke with Whole Foods, the representative told her that Whole Foods would only move into a market with a mean income of 70K.  I am guessing that Western Michigan might not have that, but who knows.

I had even written a letter to Whole Foods execs thinking to ask them to come to Western Michigan, and I have the legal connections to pull off the real estate negotiations and zoning issues that come along with opening a retail outlet.  Now I am having second thoughts.  Would Whole Foods be an addition to Western Michigan’s retail outlets that would  benefit local workers?  In this day and age, I am hesitant to bring in business just because they will come to a certain area.

Our local water supply has been grossly affected by Ice Mountain’s move to the area, and local farmers talk about how their ground water supplies are getting low.  Is Whole Foods the Ice Mountain equivalent of a predatory company moving into an area that doesn’t know to turn it away?

Guess my letter to Whole Foods is going to wait some time before its sent.

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