Whole Foods: The Wal-Mart of Natural FoodsI've always felt my money is better spent at a local food co-op than at Whole Foods, but my evidence was always anecdotal, gleaned from friends employed at natural foods markets: Whole Foods has national buying so store managers can't customize their product offerings to best serve their specific community. They're a huge 143-store chain, not local, not worker-owned, not cooperative. They have their own NASDAQ symbol. But add to that list this verified fact: they're fiercely anti-union.
According to The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin, Whole Foods "has one of the most fiercely anti-union records of any retail conglomerate this side of Wal-Mart" and its CEO is "an old-school corporatist so determined to deny workers' rights and representation that he pens pamphlets, including one titled 'Beyond Unions,' that celebrate the anti-worker extremism of Ronald Reagan's economic guru: Milton Friedman." Since WF employees in Madison voted to become the nation's first unionized Whole Foods last year, management has done everything to stifle worker rights, from delaying negotiations to firing pro-union workers. It's happening across the country, according to WholeWorkersUnite.org: in Falls Church, Virginia, union organizers at a WF store have allegedly been illegally fired, surveilled, intimidated, polled, and physically assaulted. All this despite Whole Foods' core values that state the opposite: "community citizenship," "shared fate," "empowering work environments," and "integrity in all business dealings." Another core value that made me look twice--Stewardship. They don't use the familiar definition of nurturing sustainability in work and natural environments. Instead, they define the term this way: "We are stewards of our shareholders' investments and we take that responsibility very seriously." Apparently.