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Bay Area IWW

Whole Foods Workers Threaten Action Against The Store If They Aren’t Granted Higher Wages

By Joaquim Moreira Salles - Think Progress, November 14, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Workers at a Whole Foods Market in San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood are demanding higher wages and the right to collective bargaining without being reprimanded by management. Specific demands include a $5 wage increase, better working conditions, a comprehensive health plan with affordable premiums and deductibles, and no retaliation for forming a union. Whole Foods — a company that has long preached a philosophy of corporate benevolence — is the second-largest non-union food retailer in the country.

Today is the workers’ deadline for a response by the store, and they have pledged take “job actions” if their demands are not met, one of the movement’s organizers told ThinkProgress. If management doesn’t comply by the end of today, employees will respond by holding a rally and a press conference at Whole Foods’ California headquarters on Monday. They will also demand to speak to the company’s regional president.

The Fortune 300 company is known for its anti-union stance. CEO John Mackey once compared unions to herpes. “It doesn’t kill you,” he told a reporter, “but it’s unpleasant and inconvenient, and it stops a lot of people from becoming your lover.” Mackey seems to have maintained this belief as his company grew from a single store in Austin, Texas into an $11 billion dollar empire.

There has been one previous attempt to unionize at a Whole Foods by employees in Madison, Wisconsin. That attempt failed. Whole Foods refused to recognize the union and workers who had led the organizing effort began being fired for allegedly trivial offenses, one of the employees involved in the incident claims. When asked about the events in Madison during an ABC News interview, co-CEO Walter Robb said employees in Wisconsin had voluntarily changed their minds and opted not to unionize.

According to current and former employees, Whole Foods subjects their staff to a “routine anti-union curriculum”, as one worker told ThinkProgress. Other employees who have attended these meetings claim they are told, among other things, that unions are greedy third party institutions that interfere in the relationship between employer and employee, that workers risk losing their benefits if they choose to organize, and that laws protecting workers have eliminated the need for unions. These fear-mongering tactics have failed in SoMa, where workers are being organized by Industrial Workers of the World, one of the most radical labor unions out there.

IWW Workers Take on Whole Foods in SF

By Marc Norton - 48 Hills, November 7, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Three days ago, Bay Area voters raised minimum wages in San Francisco and Oakland. There were also successful campaigns to raise minimum wages in Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Yesterday, workers at the San Francisco Whole Foods Market at 4th and Harrison Streets took the fight for fair wages to another level.  Early this afternoon, a delegation of workers presented management with a demand for a $5-an-hour across-the-board wage increase for all employees.  Workers at the store currently earn from $11 to $19.25 an hour.

At the call of an air horn, a contingent of workers in the store stopped work and gathered at the café bar near the store’s entrance. Other Whole Foods workers, who were not on duty but who had infiltrated the store, joined them, along with a number of supporters. They then summoned the store manager.  As workers and supporters gathered around, and customers looked on somewhat bewildered, long-time Whole Foods worker Nick announced to the assembled crowd, “We are the Industrial Workers of the World.”

Nick and two other Whole Foods workers, both women, presented their demands for better wages and better treatment: “We are ready to earn enough at this job so that we can quit the other two.” Ryan Rosprim, the store manager, listened patiently, but did not respond.

The workers ended the gathering with a demand for an answer by November 14, when their next paycheck is due. At that, on-the-clock workers returned to their jobs, while the other workers and their supporters exited the store, chanting “Si, Se Puede!”

Outside, workers and supporters conducted a brief rally and picket.

“We are workers at Whole Foods Market building a movement for power and a voice on the job,” reads a petition that had been circulated at the store, signed by more than 50 workers. “This is our movement, we are capable of victory, and we are worth it.”

In addition to demanding the $5 wage increase, the petition raises issues about paid time off, hours and scheduling, safety and health, and a retirement plan.

A leaflet distributed to customers during Thursday’s job action said that a “2014 study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that a worker in San Francisco must earn $29.83 an hour just to rent a one bedroom apartment in the City.  Even with a $15 an hour minimum wage on its way [in San Francisco], that is half of what a worker must earn…  It is simply NOT ENOUGH.”

After the rally, the crowd broke into the perennial chant, “We’ll be back!”

Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch Resolution in Opposition to Single Employee Train Crews

Passed Unanimously on Thursday, August 7, 2014

Whereas, the BLET and the SMART have joined forces and have been working hand in hand to outlaw Single Employee Train Crews; and

Whereas, railroad workers universally support a minimum of two crew members on every train, an engineer and a conductor; and

Whereas, in the wake of the Lac Megantic tragedy and numerous other train wrecks in the last year, we have an historic opportunity to build alliances with community and environmental groups to outlaw single employee train crews;

Whereas, a rogue general committee of the SMART TD has recently announced an tentative agreement, that would, if implemented, eliminate the road conductor on through freight and allow single employee crews;

Therefore, be it resolved, that the Bay Area General Membership Branch of the IWW affirms our opposition to single employee train operations and that we support an engineer and a conductor on every train; and

Be it further resolved, that we condemn the backroom deal recently made between the SMART TD and the BNSF as it would undermine the national union strategy to outlaw single employee operations; and

Be it further resolved, that the Bay Area General Membership Branch of the IWW urge all rail, transportation, and other union members to actively oppose contracts that would allow single employee operations of trains; and

Be it finally resolved, that Local the Bay Area General Membership Branch of the IWW urge trainmen on the BNSF GC-001 in the strongest possible terms to stand up and fight back standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest of labor and to vote NO on this tentativeagreement. 

Adopted by the members of the Bay Area General Membership Branch of the IWW on August 7, 2014

Bay Area IWW Endorses the WEST COAST PEOPLE'S CLIMATE RALLY

At its August 2014 General Membership Branch Meeting, held Thursday, August 7, 2014, the Bay Area IWW endorsed this event:

West Coast People's Climate Rally in solidarity with the historic September 21 NYC event called by 350.org and hundreds of local and national environmental, trade union and social justice organizations across the country.

All Out for Sun., September 21, 12 Noon – 5 PM at Oakland's Lake Merritt Park Amphitheater

The Amphitheater is at the end of Lake Merritt near 12th Street &, Lake Merritt Blvd, Laney College, and the Lake Merritt BART Station.

This historic Sept. 21 NYC protest will lead up to the UN Climate Summit of world leaders. Tragically, more inaction or inadequate action can be expected. We want to show the world that the climate crisis can no longer be ignored, that the planet earth is burning, that massive & unprecedented measures must be taken now to assure humanity’s future.

The People’s Climate March is shaping up to be one of the largest climate justice mobilizations in history, with organizers of the march setting a goal of getting a half million people to demonstrate in NYC. For additional information visit peoplesclimatemarch.org

While people all over the country are mobilizing for New York, a multitude of activists will undoubtedly be available to join us in Oakland. Let's make the  West Coast Solidarity action a great success...

  • For a world with an economy that works for people and the planet
  • For a world safe from the ravages of climate change
  • For a world with good jobs, clean air, water and healthy communities

To endorse this event, visit endorse@BayAreaSept21.org

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