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Wed Jan 23, 2013, 11:37 AM

Response from Whole Foods

Last week like others here I sent an email form to my local Whole Foods in response to CEO Mackey's ignorant comments on NPR in which he called the Affordable Care Act "fascist." I informed them I would not shop at their store again and I would actively lobby my friends not to do so as well.

Here's the email form reply I received today:

Dear Customers,

Thank you for contacting Whole Foods Market to share your thoughts on John Mackey’s recent comments in the media. We understand and are concerned about your feelings of disappointment. We are hearing from many of our customers about this, and we are sharing all of the feedback we’re receiving with our leadership team, that includes both co-CEOs.

I want to acknowledge that we may not be able to provide a response that satisfies your comments, but we do want to provide some clarification. Here are the facts about the healthcare offered by Whole Foods Market:

All full time Team Members (30+ hours per week) who have reached a minimum term of service (either 10 or 20 weeks, depending on their job) are eligible to receive health benefits – that’s the great majority of our Team Members. No eligible team member who has reached this term of service has to pay more than 10 dollars per paycheck for their health benefits and may add family members to the plan at a slightly higher cost. Tobacco users pay an additional surcharge of 12 dollars per paycheck. Every three years, Team Members also have the opportunity to select their benefits in a company-wide vote.

Thank you for your feedback. Again, I understand this message may not win back your support, but I do hope you'll reconsider and please know that we are listening and working to make our stores (and our company) a positive part of your life.

Kind regards,

Rachael

23 replies, 2707 views

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 23 replies Author Time Post
Reply Response from Whole Foods (Original post)
jcgoldie Jan 2013 OP
riverbendviewgal Jan 2013 #1
budkin Jan 2013 #14
barbtries Jan 2013 #2
mucifer Jan 2013 #3
jcgoldie Jan 2013 #6
Joe Bacon Jan 2013 #4
1StrongBlackMan Jan 2013 #5
myrna minx Jan 2013 #7
Filibuster Harry Jan 2013 #8
LineLineReply .
jcgoldie Jan 2013 #9
flamingdem Jan 2013 #10
leftynyc Jan 2013 #11
apnu Jan 2013 #12
TexasBushwhacker Jan 2013 #13
apnu Jan 2013 #15
TexasBushwhacker Jan 2013 #16
OneGrassRoot Jan 2013 #23
Blue Idaho Jan 2013 #17
CADEMOCRAT7 Jan 2013 #18
djhall Jan 2013 #19
lame54 Jan 2013 #20
hrmjustin Jan 2013 #21
fujiyama Jan 2013 #22

Response to jcgoldie (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 11:39 AM

1. i got the same one

Today. They are worried.

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Response to riverbendviewgal (Reply #1)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 11:13 AM

14. It's because so many liberals shop there

You'd think their stupid CEO would know not to go running his mouth. The guy is an Ayn Rand worshipper.

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Response to jcgoldie (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 11:40 AM

2. i don't shop there anyway

but i'm curious whether this letter changed your mind about it?

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Response to barbtries (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 11:43 AM

3. No because they don't believe the government should push companies

to provide health care. They are not the only company that exists. The CEO called the ACA fascism.

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Response to barbtries (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 11:49 AM

6. Didnt change my mind because...

My anger was directed not at how Whole Foods treats their employees as regards their company health plan, but rather at the deliberately ignorant propaganda being spread in the media by CEO John Mackey. He was attempting to smear the president with lies and and to spread fear about the health legislation for obvious political reasons. Whats really stupid about this is that I'm pretty sure Whole Foods' customer base is very different from Wal Mart's. Nascar rednecks and fox news junkies for the most part aren't going to pay these prices for a healthy lifestyle... perhaps thats a stereotype, but it seems really stupid for the CEO to go spouting that foolishness on NPR of all places given the liberal bent of the audience and also WF's customer base.

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Response to jcgoldie (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 11:46 AM

4. Screw Whole Paycheck!

I shop at Trader Joe's and Erewhon.

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Response to jcgoldie (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 11:46 AM

5. While the corporate response is "clarifying" ...

didn't the co-CEO, also imply that he was looking at reducing the hours of "Team Members" in a effort to skirt the AHCA requirements? If so, the response is meaning.

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Response to jcgoldie (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 11:51 AM

7. I received the same form letter. It's rather insulting, isn't it?

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Response to jcgoldie (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 12:05 PM

8. Thanks for the info. Someone from Whole Foods, I think it was him but not sure, was on Morning Joe

last week. He was asked about the Affordable Care Act and his response was he didn't like it when government gets involved and takes over. (Which is not the case with the AFA).

I live in CT. but go to a whole foods in Warwick, RI (average of 1 every 2-3 months).

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Response to Filibuster Harry (Reply #8)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 12:13 PM

9. .

It was the same guy... he labeled it as fascism and implied they would cut hours or pay their employees less because the new fascist law would be so costly. Now they respond to the predictable backlash by whining about how well they treat their employees.

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Response to jcgoldie (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 12:47 PM

10. I'm about to post about Mackey's new book "Do Good Capitalism"

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Response to jcgoldie (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 01:07 PM

11. I got it too

Until the asshole promises not to cut the hours of any employee in order to skirt giving them healthcare, the letter was meaningless.

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Response to jcgoldie (Original post)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 01:39 PM

12. If true, that's a better than I get from my company!

I'd love to pay $10-$12 per paycheck for insurance! I pay 10 times that for my family.

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Response to apnu (Reply #12)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 09:22 PM

13. I worked for Whole Foods for 5 years

Not only is the health insurance low cost, after you've worked there about 5 years (10,000 service hours) they cover your dependents and spouses/domestic partners as well.

They also had something I thought was unique. It was a debit card called a Personal Wellness Account. The first year you work there you get $300 that you can use towards deductibles and copays, dental work even if you don't have dental insurance, glasses or contacts, even certain types of alternative healthcare like acupuncture. Any money you don't use rolls over to the next year and the amount increases every year, eventually maxing out at $1800 per year. Although their insurance doesn't cover Lasik surgery, you could save your wellness account money for a few years and pay for Lasik that way.

Here are the benefits they offer. I found the things like disability insurance and dental insurance very affordable.

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/careers/benefits-us-team-members

I was laid off in 2010. At the time the gainsharing was up to 10% and I got 8 to 10% regularly, so it wasn't an unattainable bonus. When I left I was making $37K as an accounts payable specialist (in Austin) and I would be THRILLED to be able to get a job that paid that much now.

This isn't the first time Mackey has put his foot in his mouth. He's a libertarian. He doesn't believe in unions because Whole Foods is structured in a way that's been working for them for over 30 years. They offer a health insurance plan and benefits that most employees like. They only do drug testing on truck drivers and forklift operators. I do not agree with him on everything. I don't think they should be in the business of selling bottled water for example. I found out they they allow non-synthetic coloring to be added to the farm raised salmon they sell. I would prefer they didn't allow any colors at all. Salmon are pink because of what they eat. Farm raised salmon aren't naturally pink if they aren't fed the right diet. That being said, Whole Foods has a laundry list of ingredients it doesn't allow in any of their products, not just organic products.

As for them being overpriced, that's capitalism. They are free to charge whatever the market will bear. Competition from Trader Joes, farmers markets and co-ops is a good thing, but Whole Foods buys from local farmers and suppliers whenever they can. I know. I used to pay them.

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Response to TexasBushwhacker (Reply #13)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 12:12 PM

15. Wow! really awesome info, thanks!

We shop at Whole Foods for certain things, we also shop at Trader Joe's and Costco to round out our food. Mostly its Costco, but they don't have everything. As for the cost, we know what we're getting into, I see no reason to complain about that.

Like you, I have mixed feelings about Whole Foods, they've done some good and they've done some bad.

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Response to apnu (Reply #15)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 04:47 PM

16. One more thing about Whole Foods prices and the Wild Oats buy out

Regarding Whole Foods prices, I shopped there when I worked there. I got a 20% discount. Trader Joes employees get a 10% discount. People complain it's overpriced. Compared to what? It's not Walmart. They don't pay their employees squat like Walmart does, forcing them to use food stamps and Medicaid. They don't squeeze their vendors mercilessly like Walmart does. They stay profitable. I'm a bean counter. When the negotiations were going on with Wild Oats I looked into their financial reports online. I had shopped at their stores in California and noticed they were cheaper. The problem is they were struggling FOR YEARS. If Whole Foods didn't buy them out, someone else would have or they would have eventually faced bankruptcy. They would have gotten scooped up for pennies by a vulture equity firm like Bain Capital. It was that bad. Most of their stores just weren't big enough to be profitable. They were not growing and opening new stores. If a company isn't growing there are fewer opportunities for advancement.

Like I said before, it's not perfect. No company is. But my boss, the A/P team leader, started out as a file clerk. Our receptionist moved up to buyer's assistant and then buyer, in the span of 3 1/2 years. Both only had high school educations.

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Response to TexasBushwhacker (Reply #13)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 12:40 PM

23. Thank you for sharing your experience! :) n/t

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Response to jcgoldie (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 05:00 PM

17. "Dear Concerned Shopper"

"If we want to shit on our employees we'll jolly well do it. But by all means, please keep sending us your money as we have several Cayman Islands bank accounts that need tending to.

Kind Regards...

The Management."

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Response to jcgoldie (Original post)

Thu Jan 24, 2013, 05:11 PM

18. My family spent A LOT at Whole Foods, no more.

We are done with Whole Foods. This was the last straw for us. Everywhere we've lived, we've shopped at Whole Foods. I shopped at the second Whole Foods in Dallas; long ago, when Mackey was starting out after his Austin store. I brought a lot of people on board. I knew all along Mackey's politics were different from mine, but I appreciated his support of organics in America.

We averaged at about $12,000.00 a year at Whole Foods! It was the "only" place we would shop for groceries. Now, my family is speaking out, and loudly. I am a very dedicated and strong supporter of President Obama. Mackey crossed a line, and he should have known better.

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Response to jcgoldie (Original post)


Response to djhall (Reply #19)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 05:52 PM

20. "I'm not sure I understand this..." - I don't think you ever will...

We need Universal Health Care in this country

Obamacare is the first step towards this

Everyone deserves decent health care

Not just Whole Foods employees

and using a hyperbolic term like fascists doesn't help his cause

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Response to djhall (Reply #19)

Mon Jan 28, 2013, 06:09 PM

21. People have the right to boycott a business if they want to.

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Response to jcgoldie (Original post)

Tue Jan 29, 2013, 12:21 AM

22. The form letter amuses me

The CEO has a right to his beliefs, however misguided and idiotic - but the moment he starts bringing up any of the following words, I start tuning him out and have no interest in shopping at his store: socialist, fascist, Hitler, Nazi, communist...You get the point. Godwin's law can be applied beyond just internet forum debates.

And if he thinks conservatives will rally to his cause - well maybe a few might, but most conservatives I know are kind of stingy and really aren't particularly interested in shopping at "that damned expensive Hippie grocery store" (line from a former co-worker).

He's an idiot. Most of the people I've ever known that shop at Whole Foods are fairly liberal - and the form letter proves they know their core demographic shoppers. They have good quality products. I won't argue that, but I could never justify spending so much, other than the occasional splurge.

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