Capitalists exploit workers – even when they are “socialists”
After No Evil Foods settled in with Jon Reynolds and Cortne Roche, the money went quickly.
Both workers say the socialist-branded vegan food producer fired them last year for organizing on the job. They filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), alleging unlawful retaliation, and in September 2020, the board concluded that the allegations were founded, issue a federal complaint against the company for its violations of the law.
In October 2020, Reynolds and Roche settled down with No Evil rather than suing the company. The terms of the settlement are that neither Reynolds nor Roche can return to the company, no one admits fault, and No Evil pays Reynolds $ 20,000 and Roche $ 22,500.
“It didn’t last very long,” Roche explains of the payment. “I had to buy a car, I had to pay rent.”
When I spoke to Reynolds and Roche last year, shortly after No Evil fired them both, they were adamant that while the company claimed it let them go for jobs. social distancing violations and dress code violations, respectively, their dismissal in fact constituted unlawful retaliation for the organization. They did not hesitate in this belief.
“What, they paid us over $ 40,000 because they’re just giving out money now?” jokes Reynolds. The situation is still smart, they explain, as the company continues to deny breaking the law or breaking up the union. (No Evil did not respond to a request for comment.)
Workers at No Evil have sought to organize the company’s installation in Weaverville, North Carolina, with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). In response, No Evil waged an anti-union campaign, with workers at the production plant subjected to captive audience meetings, mandatory sessions in which employees listen to leaders explain why they should oppose the union. No Evil employees said meetings lasted for hours and took place as often as three times a week before the February union elections. The result was a 43-15 vote against unionization.
A company that describes itself as “revolutionary” engaged in the fight against unions is revolting. No Evil sells items with names like “Comrade Cluck” (a vegan chicken product) and “El Zapatista” (a vegan chorizo product), so its opposition to the unions has surprised and outraged workers, including Reynolds and Roche. Reynolds, after all, is a vegan himself and he moved to the state to pursue a career at No Evil, a company he said shared his values.
In the aftermath of the settlement, the argument continued: No Evil still publicly denies that he did anything wrong, leading Reynolds and Roche, among others, to continue discussing the events of the past year.
“No one was dismissed because of their interest in the unions or the risk premium”, bed a recent response posted by No Evil’s Twitter account. “The NLRB cannot determine whether the allegations are true without a hearing in which witnesses and evidence are presented. No such hearing has taken place, ”reads another tweet.
In one interview with VegNews Last August, shortly before the NLRB found the workers’ demands valid, No Evil founders Sadrah Schadel and Mike Woliansky said: “Everyone makes mistakes. Learning from them is essential. Striving to do better is the goal of “No Evil”. “
No Evil has made unusual efforts to calm the claims of these workers. The company got the audio and video of the captive audience meetings deleted from websites and podcasts by filing takedown requests for copyright and privacy reasons. The tapes were captured by workers in attendance at the meetings and, as an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) lawyer wrote in a letter to No Evil last October, the company’s takedown notices appear to be “not motivated. by a genuine concern “for copyright, but rather by a” desire to end criticism “. Workers say that after the EFF warned the company not to continue abusing copyright law, No Evil eased its efforts to quell criticism on social media and quit issue withdrawal requests.
When asked what they think of their decision to settle rather than go to trial, Reynolds and Roche are ambivalent.
“I have mixed feelings, because that’s their argument now: that it was never taken to court and that they were never convicted of wrongdoing,” Reynolds says. Roche agrees, noting that the decision was not made because they believed they would lose a case – both say there is strong evidence of retaliation and believe they would have won – but because that the process takes both time and resources. (After leaving No Evil, both workers moved on to other low-wage jobs, although Roche is currently unemployed after a stint first at Whole Foods, where she was a temporary employee, then Chipotle, where she said the $ 11 an hour paying couldn’t justify the time and money spent on the ride.)
For workers who suffer reprisals from the employer, Roches advises bringing their bosses to justice. “Even if you lose, it is still an experience that very few people can have – a company judged for violating workers’ rights. It doesn’t happen very often, ”she says.
In the VegNews interview, the founders of No Evil also accuse workers like Reynolds and Roche of encouraging others to “put their lives and the safety of their young children at risk.”
“It’s crazy, because none of this is true,” says Meagan Sullivan, who quit her job at No Evil in June 2020. From the founders’ description of a “campaign of harassment and extortion By former No Evil workers like her – who are described as union “agents” – Sullivan says, “We just tell people what has happened in our own experience working for the company.”
As for the future of No Evil, workers describe the rapid transformation of the factory, with the installation of new machinery and a reorganization of production. The company is backed by venture capital firm Blue Horizon and is growing rapidly. No Evil products are now available in more than five thousand stores across the country, including Walmart.
“I think they plan to sell the business in a few years,” says Sullivan. This is part of the reason the union campaign happened when it happened, she explains. “I worry about the people who work there because now it’s in the air, and they have no control over it.”
Although Reynolds, Roche and Sullivan have long left the company, instability remains.
“When someone fights back, they get fired,” says Jordon Hoffman, who worked as a production technician at No Evil until last month, when he resigned. Hoffman believes three people were made redundant on the day he left and that layoffs are common. Even some of the executives who led the company’s anti-union campaign have since been fired.
“Imagine I was a whole different person, and I said, ‘I’m going to stick with management, I want to be a business man,’” Reynolds says of the firing of the most senior employees. followers of No Evil. “I would have been screwed again. They are not loyal to anything except profitability and their investors. That says a lot about what kind of business it is and how it would go with any other business. Loyalty does not pay off in a company that destroys unions. “
Or, as Hoffman bluntly puts it, “they really don’t care about us.”