No Evil Foods is a vegan meat substitute company, but in light of recent union busting practices, they may need to remove the ‘No’ from their name.
On their website, No Evil Foods claims:
“No Evil exists to empower people to make positive changes for themselves, the environment, and the welfare of animals through awesome food. We’re family founded, majority women-led, and purpose-powered, and we’re determined to bring people closer to the origins of their food while addressing issues like food insecurity, economic justice, and climate change.”
Unfortunately, for all their talk of ’empowering people’, they have in fact robbed their workers of their power through union busting practices. The company’s workers were attempting to join the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). The UFCW supports 1.3 million Americans and Canadians and has been operating for over 40 years.
No Evil Foods seems to rely heavily, as many corporations nowadays do, on virtue signaling, instead of actually worker first policies. They have products with names like “Comrade Cluck”, yet when one looks inside their meetings it looks like any other top-down, hyper-capitalist company.
The company’s CEO Mike Woliansky, a man who has yet to figure out how to wear his hat straight, has stated, “[i]t’s a very real risk that having a union at No Evil Foods will greatly impact our ability to continue raising capital.” The company has clearly been siding with investors over workers, looking to bring in startup capital at the expense of workers’ livelihoods. This doesn’t seem like a very socialist thing to say.
However, like all good (horrible for workers) bosses, Woliansky pretends to be putting workers first and feigning that he is simply worried that workers may lose everything, if they support a union at this time saying, “[y]ou can always bring the union back in a year for another vote. But you’ll never know what we could have done and achieved together if you do it now.” Essentially saying, ‘work through a global pandemic and help build the company’s profits, money you’ll likely never see, and make sure you have no job security so when the company does start making money we can fire you if you try to unionize again.’ It is also a complete fabrication as their jobs were outsourced from Weaverville, North Carolina plant even after workers were coerced into voting down the union.
Some former employees have already complained about alleged union busting activities. One worker who was fired for ‘covid related violations’, which turns out to be a pretty common occurrence, alleges that it was actually due to her union activity. Of course this is not the only strongarm tactic used by the “family run” company to scare workers away from organizing.
At captive-audience meetings, meetings that workers are forced to attend where people who have big salaries or own the company tell workers why they are better off just taking what the company gives them, Woliansky has also tried to divide workers on moral grounds. He argued that “hitching your wagon to a huge organization with high paid executives and a history of scandal and supporting slaughterhouses… I don’t think that’s an organization you want to support with your dues money.” Which is putting workers lives over animals which is at best a backwards argument. If slaughterhouses were unionized it would means that fewer animals slaughtered because that is what most slaughterhouse workers are complaining about, for more details you can check out ‘Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, And Inhumane Treatment Inside the U.S. Meat Industry’ by Gail A. Einitz. It can also be argued that with more money people are likely to make healthier and more ethical choices when it comes to their food habits. Additionally, it is also at best a disingenuous argument, especially for such a ‘radical’ company. If they were so radical on behalf of workers they should make moves that would actually support them, unfortunately it seems that they are more preocupied with their bottom-line and control than actually radical, worker-first policies. The ongoing pandemic in the US also gives of numerous examples of how important a union would be to the workers at No Evil Foods, and how little the company cares.
If there was a union at the company workers would have been able to bargain for more hazard pay, though to be fair they did eventually get $2.25/hr in hazard pay, though not for long. This was after more organizing by some of the workers that had originally fought for the union, however some of the people that worked hardest to organize the petition for hazard pay, were fired soon after, again for alleged covid distancing violations. However, this came after numerous complaints by employees against the company for poor covid practices and an ultimatum to the workers from the company to keep working through the horrible pandemic and inadequate working conditions or quit. This was after the company already had confirmed cases of the virus and initially was attempting to only give hazard pay to those with perfect attendance records like this was a high school awards ceremony, not people putting their lives on the line to make overpriced, processed soy products (their sausages are over $10 a pop on Amazon, another garbage company).
Thankfully some of the workers that were wrongfully terminated got a settlement after taking their complaints to the NLRB. Unfortunately, this means that No Evil Foods didn’t have to admit any fault and could continue its possibly illegal labor tactics. Even more heartbreaking is that those who decided to stay after the ultimatum, many because the business was one of the highest paying in the area and many people in the area had lost their jobs in the pandemic, were laid off en masse. Additionally frustrating for people who are vegan/vegetarian, and those who hate disingenuous bosses, now the company has outsourced its manufacturing to a plant that also creates meat products. Remember when Woliansky was so horrified about unions also representing workers in the meat industry?
All of this has been indicative brutal, unregulated capitalism wrapped up in a Che Guevara T-shirt the entire time. Workers must demand more, and more importantly, Congress must pass laws to protect workers (PRO Act would be a start). Making sure that all workers have the ability to democratize their workplaces. This may be through unions, worker owned co-ops, or some new system, but it must be done. Workers cannot take it much longer, especially as the US is still in the throes of a pandemic, though they weren’t doing well before that either.
Currently around 5.8 million renters are in debt over their back rent according to Pew, around 40% of Americans don’t even have $400 in the bank, Americans have over $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, 72 million Americans are currently struggling with medial bills and debt, and the list goes on. This is all while the federal minimum wage still sits at $7.25, which isn’t enough to rent a 2 bedroom house anywhere in the country and which, if it had kept up with inflation, would be well over $20/hr.
Americans have been failed by their government and their unwillingness to regulate markets and companies leading to devastating, unbridled capitalism. The only way to dig ourselves out of this hole is to democratize workplaces, have strong proworker labor laws and smash companies into oblivion for violating them, unfortunately we will probably have to take their bribes, I mean “donations,” away from them first through campaign finance reform. If we don’t move toward a labor first model, along with a healthcare system that actually takes care of people, tens of thousands will continue to die every year and millions will continue to live in absolute squalor. It is untenable in a country that calls itself the greatest in the world.
*note I, Jordan, have been a vegetarian for multiple years now and hope that everyone does as well. That is one of the reasons that this story frustrates me even more. It makes veganism/vegetarianism look performative, because in this case it is. Also, there is no worker in America that I would take away the rights and benefits that organizing in the work place can bring, no not even those working in slaughterhouses, as reprehensible as I view those places.