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Obama Backs UFW & OCA's Call for "Natural Beef" Supplier to Recognize Workers' RightsTell Whole Foods to Support Farm Workers and Respect Labor Rights!
Following alerts and petitions circulated by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and the United Farm Workers (UFW) union, Barack Obama has sent a letter urging Beef Northwest Feeders in Oregon to engage in collective bargaining and contract negotiations with its farm workers.] Beef Northwest is refusing to acknowledge a vote its workers took earlier this summer to form a union. Obama called on the company to recognize the desire of the employees rights to form a union and to negotiate with them in good faith. The OCA has pressured Beef Northwest to recognize the rights of its workers to form a union, and has asked Whole Foods Market (WFM), the major purchaser of "natural beef" that is finished at the Beef Northwest factory farm to intervene. Unfortunately the head of WFM, John Mackey, has been vocal over the years in his opposition to unions, in spite of company PR expressing support for Fair Trade.
Back in April more than 13,000 United Farm Workers and Organc Consumers Association supporters signed a petition asking Whole Foods to help the Beef Northwest feedlot workers. Beef Northwest worker Fortunato Diaz went to Austin, Texas to lead a delegation which turned the petitions into the Whole Foods representative. Whole Foods said they were moved by Fortunado’s story. They said they would contact Beef Northwest and urge that the company to meet with the UFW to resolve the issue of union representation.
Instead Whole Foods has done nothing to help the workers and is trying to distance themselves from the situation. Even worse, Fortunato is being made an example of by Beef Northwest for asking for Whole Foods’ help.
While Whole Foods has been an industry leader in promoting animal welfare standards, the $6.6 billin dollar corporation has consistently failed in respecting workers rights. OCA has documented how Organic & Worker Rights must go hand in hand.
On Tuesday, when weather.com put the high at 99 degrees, Fortunato told us how Beef Northwest supervisors sent him walking to remote areas of the ranch around a mile away from all the other workers and did not even provide him with drinking water in the searing heat! Not only is this retaliatory action morally wrong, but by failing to provide him with drinking water in the searing heat Fortunato’s life was put at risk.
Whole Foods sells approximately 60% of all Country Natural Beef produced at Beef Northwest.
Tell Whole Foods that their lack of response is not acceptable. They should display some corporate responsibility. Send Whole Foods an e-mail today and ask them to tell Beef Northwest to stop its retaliation against Fortunato and to respect the June 13 card check and to begin negotiating immediately.
Visit the United Farm Workers campaign center for more information.
Looking for more information about Whole Food's anti-labor history? Visit OCA's Web Forum.
Please sign this petition to Whole Foods Vice President Edmund La Macchi below.