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Salon: Workers at Whole Foods demand better wages

December 8, 2014

whole_foods-620x412After years of organizing in secret, building bonds over beer and supporting co-workers when issues have arisen with management, team members at a Whole Foods Market in San Francisco disrupted the normal workday and demanded a $5 an hour pay increase last month. More than 20 employees beckoned store management to the floor and presented a petition signed by more than 50 of the store’s workers calling for more paid time off, better health and retirement benefits as well as steady, consistent schedules.

I worked at Whole Foods in the spring of 2012. As is the typical way of getting to know co-workers, I went out for drinks with a tight-knit group of employees. Conversations went quickly from the getting-to-know-you banter to politics, and it was at the time the Occupy Movement was running out of steam. We exchanged battle stories of political engagement and mused about how best to carry the momentum from Occupy in new directions. I asked about organizing at Whole Foods; a few of my co-workers smirked while others played dumb. A week later I was brought into the fold, and found people had been organizing for more than two years. I was feisty for action, but the others knew better; they were in it for the long haul.

Since workers came out after plotting in the shadows for nearly five years, store managers have reportedly attempted to kill them with kindness, while saying nothing of their demands. On the corporate side, Whole Foods Market announced a pay increase in its San Francisco stores effective Jan. 1, shortly after the Whole Foods Union went public.  The $1.25 increase in the starting wage, from $11.50 to $12.75, sits 50 cents above San Francisco increase in minimum wage that will take effect in May of 2015. Outside of that, both the store and corporate management have refused to publicly address the situation. Workers organizing at Whole Foods claim the announced wage increase four months ahead of schedule was likely in response to their demands.

Read more at Salon…

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. December 9, 2014 12:21 am

    age discrimination, anti-seniority attitudes (believe me, the longer you’re there the less you tend to be valued), run rampant through this company, not to mention what happens when you’re sick!. everyone is nice, everyone is smart and good to work with but the problems are built into the way Whole Foods does business. we also have to put up with terrible business decisions by regional management which seem to descend from on high to blow our efforts into nothing. We are chronically understaffed and our schedules often not posted for the next week until the weekend. I’ve been at my store for eleven years – started at $8 / hr and now make $13.35; no raise in almost two years due to a medical leave.

  2. Matt Mcbride permalink
    December 9, 2014 11:23 am

    Get another fuckin job you fuckin loser lib-tard. You are the type of person I love to fire.

  3. JakeF permalink
    December 9, 2014 10:19 pm

    You were not paid more than $200 to write that article in Salon. How many hours did it take for you to research and write this? Were you actually paid for the article yet?

    I’m going to speculate that you made less per hour writing for Salon than you did as an hourly employee at Whole Foods.

  4. Jane Doe permalink
    December 10, 2014 12:08 pm

    Avis Budget Group is another company which actually has a reverse dilemma. I am a salaried manager in a unionized comoany (airport locations are generally unionized by the hourly employees).

    As an operations manager at an Airport for Avis Budget Group, I am a middle level manager. Ops managers work minimum required 10 hour daily shifts. We get to drive home free rental cars, but when I look at my income and the daily working conditions, it is not worth it. We have no quality of life or work life bslsnce, we are sometimes forced to work hours longer because incoming late flights or call outs, we work evenings, weekends, holidays, in very bad weather outdoors, seldom able to eat a meal, and I have had days do harried thst I wold be at work 10 hours and not even able to use a toilet until I got back home again.

    I am living in poverty. I am frequently overdrawn in my bank acvount, I’m unable to save, have to keep my heat turned off, use a shower by getting wet the turning off the water, and do on. I regularly make choices as to if I cannot afford to buy prescriptions or food.

    I am looking for a way out. My schedule and hours are so rediculous and the fact that I am now dependent on that company vehicle have me trapped.

    There are many situations where manages in various fields are also put in the same problem and people don’t realize ut. We are not paid overtime, we don’t get commissions, and when we break down our income vs. The employees we manage they are often times earning more than we are.

  5. rachel permalink
    December 10, 2014 2:53 pm

    Rachel from customer service here (not anymore – working elsewhere). Was always too much of a pussy and internal sell-out for the IWW myself, but someday I’ll write something to redeem myself, or so I tell myself. Anyway, thank you for writing. It’s brave, and more people should do it – along with whatever actions they can muster. (My dad clued me in to your alternet piece and I followed a link to this site.)

  6. December 8, 2015 12:17 am

    There are so many jobs I’ve had where I’ve wanted to organize a strike. I should amend that: there were so many jobs I’ve had where the workers NEEDED to organize a strike. If we don’t stand up soon, we’re going to keep losing ground.

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