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August 2007
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United Farm Workers Protest at Whole Foods in the Pearl District

United Farm Workers will be protesting at Whole Foods in the Pearl District this Saturday; while I can’t go myself due to a prior commitment, I hope this event is strongly supported by our community because I think that the people that grow our food should be treated justly. Spotted on the Portland Grassroots Media Camp’s site (mentioned in PGMC schedule); announcement below with more details is courtesy of Jobs With Justice.

Saturday, Aug 25th, 11am Action at Whole Foods to Support Beef Northwest Workers Who Are Organizing with the United Farm Workers. At Whole Foods-1210 NW Couch. Beef Northwest is Whole Food’s only supplier. We want Whole Foods to do the right thing and show support for the workers at Beef Northwest–who are backtracking on their commitment to neutrality! We need leafletters–show up a little early to get your stack of fliers OR…

Meet with leafletting expert Lauri King a little earlier for an exciting leafletting training at 10:30am at the coffee shop at Powell’s at 10th and Burnside. Learn techniques for making sure that flier gets read.

Update: Steve Witte of United Farm Workers emailed me the following in response to my request for more information about why workers are protesting.

For over six weeks Beef Northwest professed neutrality, to allow workers to choose representation without interference from the company. While negotiating with the United Farm Workers the company continued to pressure workers with anti-union activates — in effect lying to both the union and its members. If the company is not honest with it workers, can it be trusted to be honest with its customers?

Beef Northwest is the exclusive feedlot for Oregon Country Natural Beef which is sold at Whole Foods. The UFW has asked Whole Foods to help workers improve their workplace, particularly in the areas of health and safety. Whole Foods did not. The UFW contacted Oregon Contrary Natural Beef requesting their help as well and they refused. This beef is sold as grass fed and natural but what they neglect to mention is that for at least 90 days these ‘natural’ cows are fed potatoes, corn and vegetable oil that had been used in processing plants prior feeding it to the cows — this is hardly natural.

We are sharing information with consumers. This product is not at ‘natural’ as touted and comes with a high human cost.

Thanks, Steve!


Comment from Fred
Time: August 23, 2007, 7:09 pm

I don’t see any info on those websites. What’s the story? What was their “commitment to neutrality”? Have they had a problem talking with Whole Foods or is this a problem that they have specifically with Beef Northwest? (Do you mean Oregon Beef?) Have they even taken it up with Beef NW? It sounds like thin reasoning and a bit reactionary. Everything I know about WF sounds like they try pretty hard to make sure animals AND people involved are all treated pretty humanely.

Comment from Christine
Time: August 23, 2007, 7:22 pm

The information available on the event is sparse at best; I saw it in a .pdf on the PGMC site, and then contacted them for more specifics. The information I quote, as I note, is directly from Jobs for Justice; I asked to post something from them simply because I couldn’t find any mention of the event online. The text went out, as it is above, in an email to their supporters.

UFW is an organization that I respect; when I see their name attached to a cause, I imagine that there’s a good reason. I wish that there were a bit better information available.

I’ve contacted Steve Witte at UFW and asked him to weigh in with more details. I’ll get them up when I hear from him.

Comment from Christine
Time: August 27, 2007, 8:04 am

Follow-up: An interesting development this morning. “Fred” above, uses an email address that Facebook ties to one Mike Minney, who is listed in the Whole Foods Market network in Seattle. I wonder if disingenuous blog commenting using aliases is part of their corporate policy; you’d think the John Mackey scandal would have made them a bit more cautious.

Comment from so NOT cool
Time: August 27, 2007, 8:22 am

Wow. Interesting.

There was a time when I shopped exclusively at Whole Foods. That was over five years ago.

Now, I shop there 0.00000001% of the time.

And, thanks to “disingenuous blog commenting”, it’ll now be less.

Comment from so NOT cool
Time: August 27, 2007, 8:37 am

X just called Whole Foods an organic Wal-Mart.

From the mouths of babes …