Dear Dominik and Thomas,
One of our HelloFresh values states that “We operate in an egoless environment, where we want you to speak up and challenge the status quo”.
We are writing this letter because we want to create awareness for ALL employees that we stand in solidarity with our US coworkers and to make it clear that a single email on a Friday afternoon has not satisfied our concerns. In fact, it has aggravated them. We had to publish this letter because the usual channels to challenge leadership on their position on unions have been blocked and/or ignored (Evidence: Internal All Hands Meeting questions not being answered and not passing the admin review, no ability to reply-all to your mass email, slack messages/questions left unanswered and ignored). Although we would have preferred an open forum to discuss this internally, time is of the essence: union elections are coming up on Nov 22nd for Richmond, California, and Dec 15 for Aurora, Colorado. There is no time for leadership to delay this message from getting to all HelloFresh employees.
We believe that your email response was extremely one-sided. We understand why a CEO would need to send this message, but as stated in the first sentence it is our role as employees to speak up when we do not agree or feel that the right decisions are not being made on behalf of the company. Below are some rebuttals to your mass email:
A labor union in the United States has launched a campaign targeting HelloFresh distribution centers in Colorado and California.
This inflammatory language is intended to mislead. Labor unions do not launch campaigns against companies, but rather help employees gain a say in the definition of the working conditions. This isn’t how unions work; we know this because many of us had positive experiences as workers in unionized workplaces.
We recognize that there have been some gross mischaracterizations and misinformation about our distribution centers, perpetuated by the union and the media that misrepresent the facts on the ground and our company values.
We find it extremely hard to believe that some of the world’s most respectable media outlets, as well as HelloFresh’s own employees, would all be spreading misinformation about HelloFresh.
The Guardian is a 200-year-old newspaper, while Forbes is the most reputable business magazine in the world. Not to mention other respectable media outlets that reported on the issue. HelloFresh runs numerous ads and sponsored content on their websites and other media channels. What reasons do they have to “grossly mischaracterize” HelloFresh?
But let’s assume for a moment that these media outlets for one reason or the other are deliberately tarnishing our reputation as a company; why would our colleagues themselves lie about their working conditions? Why would we as a company try so hard to take down the video they worked so hard on to get their voice heard? Perhaps it is because — like us — our counterparts have had no avenue for candid discussion on these matters.
Additionally, regardless of leaderships’ perceived accuracy of the facts in this article, HelloFresh’s actions and the media coverage has had significant brand damage. Customers care about these issues (for example, see the replies in this tweet), and rightfully so. They demand more from a brand that positions itself as progressive. Until our customers see change, they will be cancelling subscriptions, and our partner influencers are pulling their contracts with us. This will have damaging effects on the entire company and will continue to have an impact on our ability to attract and retain top talent as well: something that in a time of hyper-growth is of great concern to us.
We appreciate the attempt to provide data as evidence that HelloFresh is taking action to ensure their safety and livable wages. However, as a data-driven company, we would like to see data regarding the following:
- What is the employee turnover in the warehouses?
- What is the employee satisfaction in the warehouses (google reviews are not favorable)?
- Can you establish a link between the measures you mentioned in the email actually improving what is complained about in the video?
- The videos mentioned timed bathroom breaks and unobtainable quotas and you have not covered these in your answer.
We respect each employee’s right to choose or refuse union membership.
We really wish this was true, but the overwhelming evidence we have shows that it is actually not the case. Since our colleagues in the US kickstarted their efforts to get their voices heard, our response as a company included:
- Hiring a far-right associated consultancy that is famous for its union-busting tactics. (sources: Vice article, Huffington Post, Office of Labor & Management, US Gov )
- Blocking union-related tweets on social media (source: Twitter)
- Actively distributing a website to employees that leans heavily in the direction of union-busting and presents one-sided anti-union information https://www.myhellofreshvoice.com/
- Handing out masks to employees that say “vote no on union dues” in Spanish
- Refusing to engage in an open dialogue with colleagues in Berlin by closing email, Slack, and Slido communication channels
- Hanging anti-union posters in the warehouses
What do we expect from the HelloFresh leadership?
Swift action on the below:
1. Cancel the contract with Kulture Consulting.
2. Step down the campaign against unionization.
3. Acknowledge the workplace incidents and that our colleagues in the warehouse are not lying.
If HelloFresh is truly as egoless, data-driven, and agile as we claim, we expect to see action on the above points immediately.
50+ fellow HelloFresh Employees