A meal-kit business HelloFreshFederal disclosure forms reveal that workers are paying anti-union consultant thousands each day in order to stop an organizing campaign.
Files made with the Labor Department on Oct. 7, (here here) show that Germany-based HelloFresh is forking over $3,500 a day, plus expenses, to each consultant hired through the “union avoidance” firm Kulture ConsultingCEO Peter List runs the company. According to the filings, seven consultants are being used by HelloFresh in Colorado and California. This suggests that the company could have spent more than $20,000 per day if they had all deployed.
HelloFresh declined to say how large a tab it had run up, but a spokesperson said in an email that the company respects its employees’ rights and wants to “present the facts” so they can make informed decisions.
“Much like unions that hire professional organizers, we are currently working with experts to support HelloFresh in sharing the facts with employees at our distribution centers,” the spokesperson said.
The hospitality union Unite Here has been organizing workers in the two kitchen factories, where workers prep food kits that go out to customers’ homes with instructions on how to cook them. To hold elections, the union has filed petitions at the National Labor Relations Board. It would be able to represent approximately 1,300 workers at each of the locations if it is successful.
“They’re one of these firms that says, ‘Save the Earth, screw the workers.’”
It’s common for companies to hire anti-union firms when dealing with an organizing drive, so they can hold group and individual meetings with workers to try to persuade them to vote against the union. Employers have turned to Kulture Consulting as their preferred choice. According to filings, Kulture Subcontracted most or all the HelloFresh work for other companies and individuals.
Amazon, like HelloFresh also employed anti-unionist consultants. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union organized an organizing campaign for the retailer giant earlier in the year. The workers attended group meetings with outside consultantsDuring that campaign, every day was a week. In April, the union was defeated by wide margins.
Unite Here shared a picture on Twitter Tuesday of a HelloFresh worker receiving a presentation by a consultant. The slide read, “Remember, union organizers are a union’s sales team and can trick workers into the union.”
The disclosure forms indicate that consultants also planned to hold “one-on-one” meetings with workers.
Some workers on HelloFresh’s assembly lines recently told Vice that they’ve sustained injuries on the job and have a hard time covering rent due to low wages. “It’s a cycle of low-paying work and having to work back-to-back jobs. We believe that having a union will really change things,” worker Mary Williams told the outlet.
D. Taylor, president of Unite Here, told HuffPost in an interview that HelloFresh likes to talk about “social responsibility” ― it has a page devoted to the issue on its website ― but the company’s concerns don’t extend to workers’ rights. The company’s code of ethics notes “the importance of promoting human rights and the rights of workers throughout our operations and our supply chain.”
“That’s all rubbish. They’re a typical company. … They’ve hired the big anti-union consultants,” Taylor said. “They’re one of these firms that says, ‘Save the Earth, screw the workers.’”
HelloFresh has responded to this story.