Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Whole Foods and Half Truths

You may have heard of a funny story involving the CEO of Whole Foods, the ridiculously successful natural foods grocery store. Seems he enjoys writing under a pseudonym (given our hate mail in-box, we wish we could do the same). It seems some pressure to oust Mr. Mackey is coming from investors groups — but those investors are more concerned with the unions’ power than they are for the company’s.

An op-ed titled “Mack the Nice” in the Wall Street Journal today notes:

CtW Investment Group penned a letter to the Whole Foods board to demand Mr. Mackey be replaced with someone who could smooth the waters with federal regulators … CtW acts as pension adviser and shareholder advocate to the labor-union umbrella group “Change To Win.” For years Mr. Mackey has been a bĂȘte noire of unions for his no-holds-barred battles to keep them out of his stores.

So the problem really isn’t Mackey’s writing habits — it’s his position on unions. As the op-ed points out, he has opined: “The union is like having herpes. It doesn’t kill you, but it’s unpleasant and inconvenient.” So now union bosses would like to, pardon the play on the article’s title, knife the Mack.

Is it really a surprise that it’s a Change To Win organization pulling this kind of stunt? UFCW is a founding CTW member — and a union that can’t seem to add members without playing sleazy, anti-corporate, anti-worker games. (See our ad in yesterday’s Washington Post.) UFCW can’t seem to organize big grocers like Wal-Mart or Whole Foods without some form of dishonest cover. If union bosses would be more honest about their goals — and more honest in their tactics — maybe they wouldn’t be losing members all the time.