Whole Foods vs. Unions

Photo courtesy of Whole Foods

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


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.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate