Whole Foods Hired Far-Right Wing Activist as Union Buster

Documents from the Department of Labor’s Office of Labor-Management Standards show that Whole Foods Market hired the union busting company Kulture Consulting, LLC back in 2016. According to the documents Whole Foods began an “oral” agreement with Kulture Consulting on May 23, 2016. The company was paid $109,246. Three days before a union election was filed by the Chemical Production Workers Union Local №30 at a Whole Foods distribution center located at Pompano Beach in Florida. One document states that Kulture “presented informational meetings to company employees relative to the process of unionization, the role of the NLRB, and collective bargaining.”

Whole Foods legal representation during the election was handled by a Jeremy M. Brown from Epstein Becker & Green P.C. On the law firms website they list having experience “…representing private sector, not-for-profit, and government employers in all aspects of labor-management relations, including union organizing campaigns; union corporate campaigns; representation and decertification cases before the NLRB and state agencies.” The election ended in a defeat. Documents show the agreement with Kulture was terminated June 16, 2016 and payment was delivered on August 22nd of that year.

Peter List is the founder and CEO of Kulture Consulting. List was part of a secretive group of far-right activists known as Groundswell. Behind the scenes Groundswell’s mission was to “…cook up battle plans for their ongoing fights against the Obama administration, congressional Democrats, progressive outfits, and the Republican establishment and “clueless” GOP congressional leaders.” The group included people such as the Steve Bannon, John Bolton, Virginia Thomas and Frank Gaffney Jr. List also runs the websites laborunionreport.com and workplacereport.com. The websites are filled with anti-union propaganda, far-right wing politics and a clear admiration for Ayn Rand.

According to the South Carolina Secretary of State List is also the registered agent at Kulture LLC, and Kulture Media LLC which was previously Labor Union Report LLC. The DOL documents show that Kulture Consulting’s union-busting raked in about 4.3 million dollars in 2016 and 3.5 million in 2017. The documents also show persons listed as employed by Kulture Consulting for the Whole Foods union busting, besides Peter List, as a Ronn English and Luisa Perez. Ronn is listed as VP Western US Operations for Kulture, LLC on Linkedin.

Whole Foods has long maintained that the company is not anti-union but non-union, and that they are beyond unions. Employees are known to be treated to a power-point presentation during their hiring or employment explaining why the company is non-union. A non-Black and non-LGBTQ business is clearly just racist, bigoted, homophobic and has no respect for civil rights. Whole Foods is not “non-union” it hates unions and hates workers’ rights.

It should be no surprise that Whole Foods would hire a union-buster with such views considering John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods, has long expressed his disdain for unions and love of far right economics. Mackey years back stated that “the union is like having herpes. It doesn’t kill you, but it’s unpleasant and inconvenient, and it stops a lot of people from becoming your lover.” From a 2009 blog post Mackey wrote “…how can we say that all people have any more of an intrinsic right to health care than they have an intrinsic right to food, clothing, owning their own homes, a car or a personal computer?” It is safe to assume that it takes the average Whole Foods employee a lot longer than twenty four days to accumulate $109,246.