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Whole Foods workers seek to unionize (techcrunch.com)
433 points by deegles 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 391 comments



"In a statement provided to TechCrunch, a representative of Whole Foods said they respect the “individual rights of [their] team members.”"

Ha... now there's a carefully chosen phrase.

“[We] have an open-door policy that encourages team members to bring their comments, questions and concerns directly to their team leaders,”

I'd refer to this gif[0] but I know they're not serious. If anyone believes individual cashiers asking for maternity leave is a good way to get it, I've got a bridge you might also be interested in buying.

0: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-3AkXJmV0AIY/T_Yj4_zOF7I/AAAAAAAAAJ...


> If anyone believes individual cashiers asking for maternity leave is a good way to get it

I recognize that your comment is dripping of cynicism so I'm not entirely sure which parts are true.

You're saying that you can't get maternity leave at Whole Foods (or in the entire USA maybe? I don't know whether this is national or just that Whole Foods is somehow a horrible, terrible, no good employer) when you ask? How about with a doctor's note that says that yes indeed, you're pregnant? Isn't there laws about that sort of stuff? And wasn't Whole Foods supposed to be the upmarket, organic, do-goodery, happy happy joy joy supermarket?

Seriously when I read stuff like this I wonder how it's possible that America functions, well, at all. Do they expect people to just bleep the groceries in-between the contractions? Hey yo don't worry I can breast-feed the little one with a single hand and use the other hand to bag your leek.


>I recognize that your comment is dripping of cynicism so I'm not entirely sure which parts are true. You're saying that you can't get maternity leave at Whole Foods (or in the entire USA maybe?

Generally not, unless if you're some hot shit or in a well unionized job. Heck, in tons of jobs people are lucky to get their toiler breaks...

>I don't know whether this is national or just that Whole Foods is somehow a horrible, terrible, no good employer)

Of course it is national.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/02/05/the-w...

>How about with a doctor's note that says that yes indeed, you're pregnant?

Usually such a leave concerns the period after you've given birth.

>Isn't there laws about that sort of stuff?

In lower paying fire-at-will jobs, laws don't mean much. They can find 100 ways to fire you in ways that don't break the letter of the law if you ask for something the law supposedly guarantees.

https://www.babygaga.com/15-times-bosses-fired-women-on-mat-...

>And wasn't Whole Foods supposed to be the upmarket, organic, do-goodery, happy happy joy joy supermarket?

Public image doesn't mean anything for how a business operates. Apple was supposed to be "in the intersection of fine arts and technology" but has people in horrible working conditions, Google was supposed to "not be evil".

You say that the parent is "dripping of cynicism", but I can't make heads or tails of your questions. Are you from abroad, and have no contact whatsoever with the USA (friends, etc)? Are you from a nordic country and are astonished that such things are possible? Or maybe you're from the US, but have too much wealth to ever be involved in working people's concerns? Because they sound dripping with out-of-touch, and I'm not even American (I just have many friends there).


I just noticed that I never responded to this. @coldtea, I hope you still read this: thanks for your answer.

I am indeed from abroad and my only contact with the USA is through HN. I vaguely know some people who work in the Bay Area but they all have good jobs so which parts of their job benefits are perks and which are law or norm was never clear to me. I truly believed all civilized countries had at least some sort of government mandated paid maternity leave. Basically I imagined that in the US it'd be 2 weeks instead of N months. Thanks for elaborating.


You should either clarify that you are talking about unpaid leave, or you should read your own articles. Maternity leave is guaranteed for most employees under FMLA.

>They can find 100 ways to fire you in ways that don't break the letter of the law if you ask for something the law supposedly guarantees.

That can be actionable too. If you are pregnant and they fire you, they are opening themselves up to so much liability it outweighs the few dollars they might save.


>Maternity leave is guaranteed for most employees under FMLA.

You'd be surprised.

The FMLA only mandates for unpaid leave. That's unlike most western european countries. And even that's under BS conditions and subject to employer power plays as opposed to totally normal and acceptable (and paid).

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2008/06/what-family-lea...

https://newfoodeconomy.org/giving-kitchen-staplehouse/

https://www.motherjones.com/media/2017/05/working-mothers-mo...

>That can be actionable too. If you are pregnant and they fire you, they are opening themselves up to so much liability it outweighs the few dollars they might save.

Maternity leave is not just for pregmant people. What about after birth?

Besides, there are lots of ways to make it so it's not actionable.


normal people don't have the time or knowledge to begin those kinds of proceedings.


Or the money to see them through... not to mention in smaller cities they can also be blacklisted (illegal or not, happens all the time to those asking for their rights, suing employees, looking to unionize, etc).


If an employee is pregnant, no one is forcing the employee to show up for work. When people talk about maternity leave, they usually don't mean the ability to not show up for work (which is a given in a free society), but rather the obligation of the employer to pay the employee whether or not she shows up for work. This meaning of 'maternity leave' is not a legal requirement of employment in the US, though some employers include it. Employers are not and should not be required to pay you for work you are not doing. If maternity leave is important to an employee, it's important to negotiate it when arranging employment, or failing that, negotiate a high enough salary that you can afford to save for a couple months without income.

As of 1993, companies with 50 employees or more must offer unpaid maternity leave.


> If an employee is pregnant, no one is forcing the employee to show up for work. When people talk about maternity leave, they usually don't mean the ability to not show up for work (which is a given in a free society), but rather the obligation of the employer to pay the employee whether or not she shows up for work.

Well, there's two kinds of mandatory maternity leave:

Job protected leave, in which the employee is entitled to be returned to work after their leave, which may or may not be paid, and

Paid leave, in which the employee is entitled to pay while on leave, whether or not they are entitled to return to work (in principle; in practice, mandated paid leave is usually also job protected.).

The US (for some employees of some employers) has federally-guaranteed job protected maternity (and paternity) leave, but no federal mandate for paid leave for either. Some states have additional job protected leave mandates and/or paid leave mandates.


> Employers are not and should not be required to pay you for work you are not doing.

Most other developed countries seem to see that slightly differently. But ok, it is a stance you can discuss - however, it becomes enormously cynical when combined with the conservative aversion against welfare rights:

So you're pregnant or sick and happen to not have enough resources to live from savings for a few months. If neither the state nor the employers are obligated to help you, who exactly is?


America is known for practicing social darwinism as though it were a positive thing.


I remember an "ask a conservative" thread on reddit a while ago. What I found remarkable was that a lot of discussions that were ostensibly about "small government" or "promotion of conservative values", when challanged by a few counter-questions, shifted pretty quickly to population control along the lines of "if the poor get too much welfare they'll just have more kids".

Admittedly, this was reddit, so apologies if I'm misrepresenting real-life conservatives here, but that thread got me thinking that a lot of the political discussion might, at the root, actually be about social darwinism.


Yes you most definitely are misrepresenting the conservatives. None of it has to do with family values or anything other than the lack of understand on the left as to why your employer should not be forced to pay for everything you do or want to do.


Hell, most less-developed countries see that differently.


> it's important to negotiate it when arranging employment

I'm going to guess that a very small portion of WFMs employees have the ability to successfully negotiate their employment terms


>I'm going to guess that a very small portion of WFMs employees have the ability to successfully negotiate their employment terms

A very small portion of all employees have that ability, much less an opportunity to attempt to negotiate the terms of their employment. I think a lot of people here overestimate the leverage that the average employee - including tech industry employees - actually have with their employers.


Maybe it’s because those average employees are, well average? if you’re worth a damn in your field you most definitely can define the terms of your employment or find a company that will let you


>if you’re worth a damn in your field you most definitely can define the terms of your employment or find a company that will let you

But this thread is about those average employees, and even exceptional employees in most fields have little to no power to set terms.


> So you're pregnant or sick and happen to not have enough resources to live from savings for a few months. If neither the state nor the employers are obligated to help you, who exactly is?

Why would anybody be obligated to help you if you've decided to take up a hugely resourceful personal project?

Kids and pregnancy is expensive, and should remain so. How is making a kid is different from taking your time to go on a trip around the world, or recording an album, or doing anything else like that?

If you can't afford it, don't do it. It's that simple. Cases when it's out of your control (medical conditions) are different, of course, but they are not the norm and conversation about pregnancy and kids should not be revolving around them.


getting pregnant or remaining pregnant is a choice. it’s not a disease you just contract without choice. why should an employer be forced to pay for your decision?


Because if not, you end up in a situation where only wealthy people can have kids -> ergo, population control.


"Welfare rights"?!

That's a great neologism. It's now a right to take other people's paychecks?


Yes, that is what a society is; we all work to support one another in one way or another.

The only real question is what that support looks like. For most of the Western world, it includes things like paying women for maternity leave, and not complaining or acting like this is a big controversial idea.


That's what you want it to be. Not everybody wants to live in that world.


That's what society is; what I want looks quite different from what we have, but the basic elements are in place.

If you don't want to live in a society, there are certainly places on earth you could go to live out your days in isolation, and you might be happy there. Give it a try, hey, why not? If we miss you, we'll let you know.


If the goal of a society if not to provide security, then what exactly is it?


In America it is assumed you will think ahead and financially prepare instead of relying on the government. What actually happens is the more educated will be prepared and relatively unaffected while the less financially educated will go into debt


This doesn't work, for simple economic reasons. Companies will pay the lowest wage they can so they can reduce operating expenses. The lowest wage in many jobs will therefore tend to be the cost of a healthy, independent individual's living. So, anybody who isn't a healthy, independent individual will not be able to negotiate on an individual basis for enough pay, in the typical case. It's always going to be cheaper for a company to only hire people without kids, and without special needs, so unless you force them to do things differently, that's what they'll do - because it's simply not their responsibility to be nice to single mothers.

If you want to live in a socially darwinistic society, that's your bag. But don't pretend the people suffering it are 'uneducated'. You devalue both these people, and education in general.


Ignoring the role of financial literacy is troubling. If we don't teach people to save and invest they will never be prepared no matter how healthy.


It's often the case that victors feel their successes stem from superior characteristics, even in manifestly unfair games. Medieval nobles called themselves 'aristocrats', aristo meaning 'the best', in greek. Modern winners tend to think themselves very talented and financially prudent. The aristocrats, at least, were measurably better in some ways than their serfs: larger, more healthy, generally stronger, and so on.


> Medieval nobles called themselves 'aristocrats', aristo meaning 'the best'

Interesting, I didn't know that.

Sounds suspiciously similar to today's "meritocracy"...


Three men own the majority of wealth in the US by themselves. It's exactly the same kind of thing. Except instead of "ennoblement", we tell ourselves that we can strike it big and join those at the top.


and instead of trying to strike it big we sit on comment boards and make comments about why these supposed 3 individuals aren’t required to divide up their gains.

These are whole foods workers. they are not rocket surgeons, they can be easily replaced by stepping outside and finding the next person that walks by. These are the types of jobs that will be automated away in the near future due to stuff like this. Your average skillless worker won’t have a job to go to if they keep making themselves more and more expensive.


So the solution is that we just all become the next Steve Jobs?


This is why we can't have nice things.


I agree. Yet people keep voting for socialism.


The contemporary American conservative's use of the word "socialism" seems so meaning-free, it's a stand-in for "things I don't like" or "whatever libtards want".

Can you elaborate on what socialism you think people are voting for?

Cause right now we don't have free education--we have massive loans we award to children that can never be disposed of.

We don't have free health care--we have the worst of both possible systems, with only now a real national discussion about bringing our horrible health care in line with literally the rest of the western world.

Where's this socialism people keep voting for, and when's it going to start reaching us and affecting our lives in a meaningful way???


Maternity leave policies are a transfer of wealth from people who have fewer children to people who have more children.


They’re also a transfer of wealth from shareholders to employees (who have kids).


Awesome. Transfer that wealth. Shareholders add nothing of value to any economic system. Transfer it all to the people who are making a contribution.

But you said "people are voting for socialism" (in a discussion about some group unionizing) and that's just a bullshit claim. This country is so far from socialist policies, and no one's running on a socialist platform, it's just empty words to say anyone's voting for socialism.


>Employers are not and should not be required to pay you for work you are not doing. If maternity leave is important to an employee, it's important to negotiate it when arranging employment, or failing that, negotiate a high enough salary that you can afford to save for a couple months without income.

As if people have any negotiating power without unions, as if there is not a well-documented power imbalance in this country. Your attitude toward the common woman/man = why we can't have nice things. You and people like you labeling any thing that gives people a decent chance socialism = why we can't have nice things. Would you consider Denmark a socialist country?

Or maybe you were just being glib?


"You're saying that ..."

No, that's not what he's saying, and no, a single person does not have the same leverage an entire collective has against a larger company.


But.. You're pregnant! You're entitled to maturity leave right? Isn't that normal? Why do you need "leverage"?

I'm not kidding, so I'll ask again, even clearer. Does America not have the concept of maturity leave by law? Is it like considered a perk or something?

I'm so confused because, well, where I live when you're pregnant, tell the boss is exactly what you'd do! And then you get maturity leave. And the GGP says that that's somehow totally laughably ridiculous, so laughably ridiculous that it warrants sharing imgur gifs, and I really don't get it and I also still don't get how America can function at all when something as basic as this isn't, well, basic.

ps. also you're not being very helpful with "No, that's not what he's saying" without telling me what he is saying.


> ps. also you're not being very helpful with "No, that's not what he's saying" without telling me what he is saying.

> If anyone believes individual cashiers asking for maternity leave is a good way to get it, I've got a bridge you might also be interested in buying.

Sequoia is referring implicitly to the significant difference in power and efficacy of individual vs collective bargaining in the United States. Collective bargaining (e.g. unionization -> union negotiations) has long been a way for workers to effect more change in workplace conditions and compensation than they would otherwise be able to, alone.

Paid maternity leave is a luxury in the United States.

The bridge comment implies gullibility.


There's apparently a federally mandated minimum of 12 weeks unpaid leave, with a number of exceptions. From what I can tell, Whole Foods does what it must, and not a lick more.

https://www.everydayhealth.com/pregnancy/101/tip/fmla.aspx


> ps. also you're not being very helpful with "No, that's not what he's saying" without telling me what he is saying.

It's a metaphor.

The implication is that in the absence of a bargaining organization and a written agreement, employees will go to their manager with a situation, and the manager will have to invent an individual policy on the spot, which will be more trouble for all, and probably worse for the employee. Certainly less fair, since not everybody has the same manager, or the same relationship with them.

Pregnancy is the vehicle of this metaphor. Nobody would claim that pregnant women would be better off without a written policy for maternity leave. All other situations are the tenor. There's no reason to believe that individual-serving-sized policies for other situations would work any better than for maternity leave.

sequoia isn't saying anything about maternity leave. They're using maternity leave as an example, to say something about the need for collective bargaining.


Where are you based? Are you sure unions aren't the reason you have these benefits?


He could live almost anywhere in the world:

"The United States, Suriname, Papua New Guinea, and several island countries in the Pacific Ocean are the only countries that do not require employers to provide paid time off for new parents."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parental_leave


Glad to know that North Korea, Guatemala, Sudan, and South Sudan are considerate enough to provide paid maternity leave.


> North Korea

That's not terribly surprising, fascist ideologies are typically very family-centric, to the point of actual Darwinism/eugenics.

It's one more reason why I don't think the rising, bipartisan, hyper-capitalist, reactionary tide in the US can be accurately called fascism. It's a different creature in a lot of ways.


Whilst it's likely that from a historical perspective unions (or other collective action) fought for rights for workers, in many (most?) modern societies there is now legal basis for them.

I have found myself in the same position as the parent as a non-US resident who ended up in discussions where the assumptions made by those from the US and those not from the US about the rights of workers are so wildly different it stalls the conversation.


I bet they are (Netherlands). I seriously don't get how anyone can interpret my comments on this thread as sceptical about unionization.


How are you inferring that from GPs comments? He just couldn't believe that the US doesn't have mandated parental leave - you know, like the rest of the world.


Likely EU or UK, if I had to guess. Maybe CA.


The UK is in the EU


Not for long.


it is considered a perk. good tech jobs, for instance, often have paid maternity leave, while cleaning and food contractors at these companies might not get this.

since up to 12 unpaid weeks is mandatory, people find a way to make it work, by saving money and going back to work very soon.

it is a common rhetorical trick in discussions of labor politics in the US to pretend that employers treat everyone the way they treat upper-middle-class salaried professionals (“i’m sure the boss would be reasonable if they just went and asked!”). So people may have assumed you were doing this rather than genuinely thinking things worked differently.


Lawyers were clearly involved in that press release.


>If anyone believes individual cashiers asking for maternity leave is a good way to get it,

then they've heard of FMLA.

If we're talking about paid, that seems incredibly unusual for an hourly position at a retail store. Does anyone offer that?


In the Western world, but outside of the US? Yes.


All my experience shopping at grocery chains in the US and elsewhere has impressed upon me that these workers represent the absolute classic, textbook case for unionization.

Yes, including Whole Paycheck[0] as well as Trader Joe's and Safeway and Von's and everybody else.

While I can imagine Amazon having a loathing of unions, if they really want to be in this space they will sooner or later have to contend with the fact that this is an industry that needs a union. And I think, at obvious risk of being wrong, that the US is going to become once again more union-friendly in the coming years.

So maybe a very friendly, not very confrontational, laid-back and smiley group of workers flirting with unionization might be a way for Amazon to put a toe in that water without overcommitting. Much as the WholeFoods acquisition was per se.

[0]: Whole Foods goes by this nickname in California. Because you spend your...


"All my experience shopping at grocery chains in the US and elsewhere has impressed upon me that these workers represent the absolute classic, textbook case for unionization."

Why?

"...an industry that needs a union.."

Why?

"...more union-friendly in the coming years"

Why?

Nothing you said is grounded in any actual analysis or verifiable facts.

I'd argue that undifferentiated skills that require little education make this an industry poorly suited to unions; Even if you unionize you have little chance of success since most workers are easily replaced by scabs or increased automation. Many workers are also kids in school (speaking from experience -- I used to work in a produce department while studying),and so would not join a union regardless due to the temporary nature of their employment. Butchers and bakers may be an exception, but these are the minority compared to checkout workers, stock boys, or produce workers.

So maybe they'd benefit significantly from the fruits of unionization as experienced in more technically complex industries...but they are highly unlikely to receive those fruits.


Speaking from the perspective of working unions (Scandinavia) what makes unions work and be relevant are the protections they enjoy. The unions fought for these protections. Without being able to unionize you can't improve your position as a union either. You have to start somewhere.

So: first: employers can't choose (freely) who to lay off. It's first in last out, or if you want to sidestep that, you'll have to compensate the employee quite heavily.

Second: "proper" union strikes have a very protected status. An employer who would hire scabs would be quickly taken out of business. They'd switfly be blockaded by other unions in sympathy. So for example: a store hiring scabs to replace striking union store workers would quickly find that their trash isn't picked up, that the cleaners don't show up, that no electrician fixes their fridges, and so on (Also: these type of measures are also protected).

Without having these two protections (can't fire, can't hire scabs) unions are very weak compared to employers. I'd argue that with these protections, unions and employers have a pretty equal playing field.

Note also that these protections didn't come free: the employers' share of the deal was that there is no minimum wage and you can't have protected strikes during the agreement periods which are typically 1-3 years. So the strikes will occur at known intervals if negotiations for the next agreement stalls.


First-in-last-out is an objectively terrible way to hire and fire though. As an employee I feel personally invested in the success of the business I work for. I don't want to work with less competent employees because of an arbitrary rule. I want the weaker people to eventually be let go. I do want a safe secure workplace. I don't want people fired on a whim. I want training opportunities to be provided first. I want people's performance to be judged over the whole course of their employment not just the last quarter. But at crunch time I want the less well performing people to be let go rather than just the newest.

EDIT Re-reading this I realised I missed some perspective. A key ingredient related to hiring and firing in the society I want to (and do) live in is that when someone loses their job they have unemployment benefits that cover a significant fraction of their salary. This gives them time to find another job and makes losing your job a much less traumatic event.


As an aside, Let go is such an interesting term. It's such a well accepted piece of corporate doublespeak.

It's like they want to go, and their employer is letting them. They're straining at the leash to be unemployed, and the employer graciously releases them from the burden of their contract.

They're being fired.


I get an uneasy feeling every time I hear it. It twists the situation around, like you said, to make it seem like they are doing a great benefit to the employee.

My all time favorite ridiculous doublespeak is "we reached out to the employee and let them go". I heard that once from a company's pr dept. after firing a worker due to some public scandal.


It’s more like they are dangling over an abyss and the person holding them up lets go.


Fired implies that the employee did something wrong.

Let go is a euphemism for made redundant/laid off. I do agree that it is a euphemism.


In my experience, let go is a euphemism used to avoid saying if they were fired or made redundant.


It honestly reminds me of The Giver. They're being released.


The parent comment does allow for a way to let incompetent people go:

> if you want to sidestep that, you'll have to compensate the employee quite heavily

That makes it less attractive to fire an employee, but still potentially worth the business' while in some cases. It feels like it's tipping the balance slightly more in favour of the workers, and doesn't inherently seem wrong to me.


First-in-last-out isn't a good solution, it's just one of the bad solutions to the problem of firing replacable workers. The idea is that it's the starting point of negotiation, and the employer has to compensate to go around it, and that added cost to the employer is what gives more security with longer employment. It's important to note that it's very common for employers to still keep newer employees and use the compensation workaround.


Also, some people may not be aware that many countries have plenty of restrictions around layoffs, totally separate from the unions.

For example I work in a non-union company, and if I have children and you have none, you get laid off before I do. Regardless of who's "better" and who's been there longer. That's in Germany; I would assume, say, France and Spain have much stricter rules around layoffs.


> employers can't choose (freely) who to fire. It's first in last out, or if you want to sidestep that, you'll have to compensate the employee quite heavily

Do you mean "lay off"? Employers should be able to fire anyone with cause regardless of when they were hired.


Sorry yes I mean "lay off" (edited). With cause obviously you can fire anyone.


'layed off' means different things in the US versus Europe.

In the US, an employer may 'lay off' as much staff as they want and then hire new people into those positions.

In France, for example, a 'lay off' must close the position and not hire a new body into that role for 12-24 months.

This may be difficult to prove, but the laws exist.


Wow, I actually really like the French policy. It would make employers actually distinguish between a temp position and a full hire up front. Too many small businesses try to optimistically hire in good times, only to suddenly realize a few months later that they would collapse under the new payroll when business is normal.


Yes, and I've been "laid off" before after having compensation discussions with management. The employer dodges a lot of liability they would have if they fired me after asking for a pay raise. But for me the end result was I still lost my job.

I like the 12-24 month waiting period as it would help reduce lay off abuse.


Does Scandanavia suffer from the same stigma as French companies? In the States, working with anyone in France is absolutely terrible because its near impossible to fire anyone and they never work due to labor laws. Do you think Scandanavia still encourages productivity enough? The problem of having workers rights and encouraging productivity seems a fine line to walk


People keep saying things like this, while France remains a technologically advanced society with nuclear powered 200mph trains, chip fabs, aerospace industries etc. Nominal GDP per capita has just overtaken the UK. It's not clear that it produces less work, just less presence in the office.


You mean that the guys who are in front of the praised Germans, largely in front of your English cousins, and rocking the EU average, are “never working due to labor laws”? Your post reeks of crawling xenophobia.

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/europpblog/2013/02/25/french-workers/


When I got a job at the local Stop 'n Shop, union dues were part of the gig.

Why shouldn't Whole Foods workers form a union as well? I remember I was 5 minutes late once at a mom and pop health food store and the boss put up a very public and angry note about the behavior. It was rude and embarrassing. I was probably making $5/hour, if that. I guess the job was easy... but appeasing the very particular clientele was NOT.


You don't need verifiable facts to know that retail and warehouse workers are wage slaves. Thats why unions are needed. Need a verifiable fact? Try living on $10/hr and tell me how that works out for you.


It worked well enough for me when I was younger, though I wasn't living in SF.


younger is the key word there.


Not really. Everyone else who worked their longer, or had more experience elsewhere, got paid more, typically with a different job title.

Another job that was more uniform was in a factory, where I was making roughly $12 / hour. Not only was it unskilled labor, but those jobs were slowly disappearing as lines were being replaced with fully automated systems that only needed a third, at most, of the people to run them. Any effort to raise wages or unionize would merely ensure that the remaining lines were replaced sooner rather than later.

Therein lies the problem with trying to "solve" unskilled work. It's easier to automate, and there's more people capable of doing it. Given that often means that supply exceeds demand, wages are inevitably going to stay low, or the jobs will simply evaporate.


What's wrong with providing low wage entry level jobs for young people? It gives them experience. Rising wages would incentivize employees to stay in low-skill jobs for longer instead of moving to higher-skill-higher-pay jobs and letting other young people get those low skill jobs.


One of your examples, Trader Joe’s, does not have a union and their employees seem to be relatively content.


Smaller stores, less diverse customers, in the upscale area of the city and the company respects their employees. That’s why they are content. Needless to say, they would also benefit from unionization


Just FYI, everyone calls Whole Foods Whole Paycheck.


I disagree. Before today, I'd never heard of this terminology, and I'm next to a WF each workday.


People have a lot of "clever" diminutives for things they don't like for nebulous reasons they can't actually articulate.

It makes me question the thoughts of anyone who consistently uses them in an argument or rant. It feels as if the speaker is more interested in scoring laughs than making any point.


> People have a lot of "clever" diminutives for things they don't like for nebulous reasons they can't actually articulate.

I shop at Whole Foods quite frequently. There isn't some conspiracy or nefarious intent in calling Whole Foods "Whole Paycheck" -- it's usually used amongst Whole Foods shoppers between themselves when they describe their shopping experience (...in my experience)

If it is still tough for you to grasp, I will break it down for you really simply.

Whole Foods sells the same shit you can now find at most any other grocery stores (even Food Lion and Walmart in some markets) at stupid high prices. It's colloquially referred to as "Whole Paycheck" because yes, it is a funny jab at the fact that you spend much more shopping for groceries there than any other grocery store. That's basically the end of the story. I can buy organic milk, eggs, bread, coffee, apples, bananas, some vegetables, and coconut water from Whole Foods and also Kroger (or Harris Teeter in my market) and I will easily spend at least 10 more dollars for those items at Whole Foods.

That's why it's called "Whole Paycheck" -- yes not by "everyone" but by enough people that random internet strangers that never have met before are agreeing that is what it is referred to at times.


I know the superficial reason why it's called that.

It's done in either self-deprecating jest or as an insult.

To consistently use the diminutive rather than the actual name is to signal to others that you are "in" somehow. That you are "the same". Depending on the manner in which you use it, indicates which group you're looking to belong to. Using these terms and also going full alphabet soup, which happens when people talk shop, isn't for the purpose of disseminating information, but to tell people you are informed.

If you want people to understand you, you should be clear and simple.


"Whole Paycheck" isn't a diminutive, perhaps you were thinking of pejorative? Either way, I think you're reading a bit much into it.


Whole Wallet as well.


I agree conditions could be improved, and that we are probably near the peak of anti-union sentiment. I don’t agree unionization will transform these stores. Many grocery store chains are unionized and the jobs are still loathed. I understand the fear is that Amazon will make the job worse than merely loathed and perhaps the status quo union is enough to prevent that. I don’t think a union can change that impression you’re getting when you shop.


> Many grocery store chains are unionized and the jobs are still loathed.

Unions aren't about undoing alienation under Capitalism, they're about making Capitalism survivable for laborers.


That may be, but the person to which I responded said that they can tell people need unions when they shop. They wouldn’t be able to tell if people are making their budgets meet at home, just whether they seem to enjoy their jobs.


[0]: Whole Foods goes by this nickname in California. Because you spend your...

Try their sale items, particularly if you live in an area that already has the Amazon Prime 10% discount on sale items. The sale prices were then usually lower than any other store in the area (SF) where I lived. For people who want specialty items (dietary choices, health conditions, etc.) I haven't really found a better option.


Depending on what you buy, Whole Foods is sometimes cheaper than the “regular” grocery stores. Between sales and the Amazon card we have, it’s kinda silly for us to shop elsewhere.


well you're a software engineer living in California, a fortunate life.

maybe you can help America's wage slaves see how "silly" it is to shop somewhere besides Whole Foods


It’s silly for me to go to Vons and spend more.

Try reading comprehension before you try snark.


One of your examples, Trader Joe’s, does not have a union and their employees seem to be relatively content.


Just because they are content now, doesn't mean they will be in the future. Union is prep for when shit hits the fan.


>> the US is going to become once again more union-friendly in the coming years.

It sometimes surprises people that, as a Libertarian, I applaud workers attempts to unionize. It's really the only way for those who just want to put in an honest days work to combat continually living under a cloud of worry their job/benefits will not be taken from them and given to those with equal skills but who are more desperate to survive.

In a truly free market, individual workers should be allowed and, in some cases, encouraged to organized.


Safeway is unionized. Lucky is unionized. Why not Amazon Whole Foods?


A lot of finger pointing at Amazon but most of the employment demands from the 'union' have been characteristics of Whole Foods since looonnngg before the aquisition. For example, unpaid paternity/maternity leave, no recognition of any holiday including federal - just 3 weeks of PTO used at your discretion, below market compensation, crappy benefits, calcified management, and the list goes on.

Most people work there because of the perceived culture of being free-spirit & hippy, but from my observation it's not that great of a place to build a career & wealth. Or perhaps it's par for the course and I'm just accustom to tech companies treating their people pretty well given how competitive the market is for top talent.

Source: I live in Austin with friends who work at the HQ.


> 3 weeks of PTO

Having been in the UFCW Local 367, it takes 3 years to get 3 weeks PTO - it's 1 week the first year.

And you get "sick days", but you had to call in sick for 2 days (and lose that pay) and have a doctor's note, to start getting sick pay.

If you do call in sick, you have to explain to the manager that they'll be short a person all day, and customers will find the store that much busier and harder to shop in. Stores don't have a "b-roster" to call in when someone is sick.

Journeyman checker wages have been frozen at 18.50/hour for a decade. And it takes 4 years to work the hours to become journeyman, which increases in every subsequent union contract.


Thank you for the realism without any snark.


We're in the middle of the best economy in years. Why would a worker put up with that? Go someplace else. Whole Foods doesn't put stores in small towns. Anyone who works there has plenty of other options.


Yeah for sure, people living hand to mouth in a hyper competitive low-skill wage job definitely have the luxury of shopping around for better conditions where employers have their pick of any number of people desperate for a job. Totally.


This sarcasm does not move the discussion forward. There’s a number of things a person can do in the U.S to pick up a skill from a trade to medicine. With grants, loans, or any number of free/paid courses.

Also, it is truly impressive to see people work and succeed going from “not very much” to “boy he’s a force”. Just takes effort, go figure.


Yes, it is impressive to see people improving their lives, and we should work towards a society that helps people do that. However, to just write it all off as if "hard work" is the only thing preventing a lot of people from improving their lives is very much blind to the reality that a lot of people are _already_ working very hard, just to stay afloat as is, and there are other factors beyond "hard work" preventing change.


Acquiring a skill takes money (if there's any kind of accreditation) and time. If you're living paycheque-to-paycheque and looking to change employers, chances are you don't have much of either. Not everyone has a safety net.


Which is why having a safety net is so important in society, and therefore, society should subsidize it.

But no such thing exists in America, so that's how do many people get stuck with no options.


> We're in the middle of the best economy in years.

Best economy for whom? The U.S. economy as a whole has expanded greatly since the 1980s, but it's the individuals' economies that matter, and they haven't expanded much.


'best economy in years' i s a meaningless statement.

You should be looking at who the gains from that economy are going to.


There have been umpteen articles how wages have not kept up with inflation. It's a tough sell telling parts of the country that swapped the first black president for man with a less than stellar morality record that this is the best economy in history.


>It's a tough sell telling parts of the country that swapped the first black president for man with a less than stellar morality record that this is the best economy in history.

I don't really understand what you're saying, but Obama had a despicable morality record as well. Kill list, 7 wars, drone bombed American citizens with no due process, dropped 26,000 bombs in 2016 alone, tortured people including Chelsea Manning.


> swapped the first black president for man with a less than stellar morality record

This is a weird juxtaposition. You appear to be implying that "first black president" and "less than stellar morality" are moral opposites.


Walking into changing rooms of teenage girls isn't indicative of moral character, or is being the focus of multiple sexual assault allegations.

And if that's just "fake news" given it has been reported in multiple sources, then I suppose I can just call any retort you make as "fake news" as well.


Were you trying to reply to a different comment? Because your response makes absolutely no sense.

> Walking into changing rooms of teenage girls isn't indicative of moral character, or is being the focus of multiple sexual assault allegations.

Congrats on inventing this never-before-seen grammatical construct, though.


???

Inflation and Trump not having a morality record is kind of given if you can believe CNN and the NY Times...

The rest of your statement requires explanation for my head to wrap around... The phrase frumentarious frippery springs to mind.


Yeah, why work a dead end low paying job? Just go get more money!


We’re in the middle of the best economy and wages still aren’t rising. Monopoly, monopsony, and free market extremism have crushed them for all but the very few.

https://www.epi.org/publication/its-not-just-monopoly-and-mo...

So no, there aren’t really “plenty of options” to get paid or treated better. Just better returns for those already at the top.


And? If Amazon bought a company with poor working conditions, ripe for unionization, it’s their problem. They’re the bosses now.

Maybe the workers hoped things would get better absent labor organization, but now that they’re being managed by a company rife with labor abuses, their circumstances have become more clear to them.


I don't disagree, I think it's a great opportunity for Amazon to make this a big win for their optics - externally for consumers who are starting to view them as the new Walmart and internally for WF employees.

I just felt I needed to clarify that attacking Amazon and painting them red in the press for poor employment practices that WF has upheld for a long time was not really a diplomatic strategy for approaching your new boss, especially when a lot of WF employees likely wanted Amazon to be a "hands-off" acquirer.


I have noticed that the cashier's have gotten pushy about asking about a Prime account, and very recently about a charity donation. It's a good way to 'make' people donate when asked upfront. I'm sure the probability of people donating increases. When I denied, I was asked if I'd like to round off my payment and have the balance donated. Honestly, it's very annoying. Whole foods is unfortunately becoming an REI store.


That's the new trend in many grocery stores.

Someone on HN or Reddit mentioned that grocery charities are actually a tactic to estimate the sign of the derivative of e the customer base's grocery-discretionary income, as a hint of when to raise prices.


Interesting angle. Any resources to back up that claim?

Feels so dirty, like free health screenings for employees, when the real purpose is to built an insurance risk profile for a geographic area.


Or simply introduce themselves as the vector for charity, taking corporate credit for the donations of their customers.


This is what I always guessed was the reason.


I never donate via proxy, I don't want to give some corporation a tax deduction on my behalf. I am sure they are doing this for PR purposes.


HN; the place where people use "sign of the derivative" instead of "trend" or "growth".


I was particularly confused by the typo, "sign of the derivative of e", e being constant.


sign of d/dx e^(discretionary income) perhaps


I always assumed the reason was to generate $XXX million in donations for a tax deduction for the grocery store chain.


It doesn’t work like that with regards to taxing. What they do get is a good PR image at no cost to themselves (many places don’t match any donations[0]). Worse, some even keep a percent in “administrative fees” [1]

And there is concern that these checkout charities are replacing more traditional means of corporate giving, reducing net contributions.

Whether or not they make you feel ambushed, due diligence is worth hope before giving, as some companies (and the non-profits they give to) are more worthy than other.

[0] Such as walgreens. But there are some places, like Costco, that will match customer and employee giving.

[1] Petco


I'm not a tax attorney but I don't think that's how deductions work.


Do you mind explaining more?

I was under the impression that a corporation can take a tax deduction for charitable donations. There's a line item for it on Form 1120 (https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1120.pdf)


In order to take the tax deduction of an expense to a charity they have to first recognize the income the customer just gave them.

Since the income and the deduction directly offset each other, this is a zero sum maneuver.


Ah, okay. Thanks!


Ralphs and Vons in California have been doing the charity ask for years. I always assumed it was their way of bragging later "how much they gave back to the community" while conveniently forgetting to mention those funds came from customer donations. I hate it, too.


Safeway also.


Safeway and Vons are both subsidiaries of Albertson's.


The charity donation thing has been part of WF forever. They do it on and off over the years.

South Park making fun of them for it in 2015: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKsOwJ8AGWo


Panda Express kicks this up a notch and has a little bell they ring whenever someone donates their change adding an element of social pressure/shame, super scummy


They are scummy in general. All the PEs near me stop cooking all their best entree items by 7PM on the theory that customers will accept whatever slop is left... yet they continue to offer all their items over mobile (they'll just happily tell you they "ran out" when you get there).


Panda Express is high up there in the list of nastiest fast food places. Pure garbage food. And as you probably know, they will gladly dump a fresh batch of Orange Chicken on top of a 3 hour old batch and so some portion of their entrees are kept on the hot plate for half a day. Nasty. What they do is criminal.


You should perhaps, never look at how food is prepared at any fast food location. At every food prep place I've worked, we only saw the big boss when they were running over to tell us to replace everything because they saw the health inspector. Usually they had the line manager telling us to replace nothing, and firing or reducing hours of employees who followed the posted food safety guides


I absolutely hate their charity solicitation. If I’m going to donate to anything, it’s going to be a charity of my own choice after a thorough vetting with no middlemen. Next time I go there, I’m tempted to request they round down my total instead.


I would actively avoid donating in that case, because I don't like attention for that kind of thing.


Panda Express is an odd chain, perhaps even odder than Chick-Fil-A (which is closed on Sundays). They participate in Landmark Forum which is a retreat where you spend most of a weekend having some rowdy guy tell you what they think really matters in life. https://www.quora.com/Is-the-corporate-culture-of-Panda-Expr... Like Chick-Fil-A, their unusual beliefs and practices probably just makes the insiders prouder of the company.


If someone's going to make me uncomfortable, I'd stop going there. But if I really still wanted to go there, I'd work on a spiel about the charities I like and when they ask me to donate, I'd ask them to donate.


You're only making it harder on the wage slave behind the check stand. Theyre required to ask.


I wasn't suggesting I would pick a random charity just to be vindictive.


Ugh I hate that. I don't donate money so that I can stand around saying "Hey, Look what I did!"


They have to recoup the losses from all the free fortune cookies they give.


South Park


Sorry, what's wrong with REI? I've never been asked to donate to charity at my local REI...


Haven't you been pushed about getting an REI membership? I think twice before asking any REI salesman for help, because I know they are going to push me to get a membership. They're doing their job since their incentives are tied to memberships to some degree, but it makes for a poor experience.

/edit:I'd rather be asked about a membership once at the cashier's than by every sales staff I talk to during my visit.


REI is one of the most responsible retail business around in my mind. They still operate as a co-op and I don't expect that to change in the foreseeable future. I haven't experienced any pushiness from their staff, which is anecdotal, but I've been a customer for years in a least 4 states.

If you anticipate shopping there more than once, or for any large item (excluding sales), then a membership is worth it. The dividend is 10% so it pays for itself after $200.


I've been shopping at REI for years and have never been asked about membership by the people working the floor. Also if you're shopping at REI without a membership you're doing it wrong. You get a percentage of every purchase back as dividend that you can put towards anything in the store.


They'll actually give it back to you as cash also, though I've never used that option because I always find more things I want/need.


Oh, I see. To be fair, I signed up and paid $20 for a membership many years ago; it's a one-time fee to never have to worry about saving receipts, which is a massive win for me since I shop there so often, and to get the dividend which inevitably amounts to far more than the one-time $20 charge.

So, to be fair, I don't recall being pushed, since it made sense to me, and they wouldn't push me now because I'm already a member.


my wife probably signed up sometime- cos when I gave them my phone number they said you have $21 dividend- want to apply it? I was like - wow - I love this place and I don't even shop there a lot. Don't love their prices but I love REI. Too bad the Orchard Supply which is also a CoOp is shutting down.


> Haven't you been pushed about getting an REI membership? I think twice before asking any REI salesman for help, because I know they are going to push me to get a membership.

Do you realize that REI is a co-op [1] and the membership will entitle you to cash back on your purchases and a vote for their board of directors? It's a one-time fee, and mine paid for itself the first year I had it. It's a stupid grocery store loyalty card.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consumers%27_co-operative


> It's a stupid grocery store loyalty card.

TYPO DETECTED: I just realized I meant to say it's not a stupid grocery store loyalty card, it's way better for the customer.


Probably better, because they don't datamine you.


It's a coop, that's what they do.

FWIW the dividend is pretty nice. Combined with the sale I saved a pretty solid chunk of money on a nice cooler.


The donation inquiries are not from Amazon, they were doing this well before Amazon bought them.


I worked there as a cashier.

You got tested on this.

Prime account is just the replacement for their rewards program. For the month of... may? The old one who stopped and the prime one hadn't started. This made some customers mad.

Plus it's a lot easier if you're basically running off a script to do the eight hours of repetition.


The charity donation thing has been around for a while. South Park even had an episode 3 years ago about Whole Foods and the pushy donations.


I quit donating to charity after I found out that Red Cross only gives a small fraction of its donations to charity the rest is spent on Administration costs.

Just like colleges and the healthcare industry.

Got to pay all those vp's of vp's of vp's.


It's not a "small fraction". You're probably confused with Susan Komen. Red Cross has it's faults, but if they can serve more victims by hiring more effective people with 6 figure salaries, aren't they doing more good?

By analogy, the main rocket on the space shuttle has two stages of fuel pumps...powered by rocket fuel. So you could say that's inefficient, why not run fuel straight from the tanks into the rocket. But it can't pump enough in to get enough thrust unless it uses some of its fuel so that it could burn even more fuel.

My personal charity gripe is the blood bank. They make it out like you're a hero, meanwhile they bill the patient thousands of dollars. They hide behind "but people with disease might donate if we paid them", well they pay people for plasma. And they have to test for HIV anyway (not only that, HIV isn't even a death sentence anymore). If they want my blood they can donate it to the patient or give me 50% of what they bill.


There are very significant issues with the Red Cross and how it spends money. For example: https://www.npr.org/2015/06/03/411524156/in-search-of-the-re...

> NPR and ProPublica went in search of the nearly $500 million and found a string of poorly managed projects, questionable spending and dubious claims of success, according to a review of hundreds of pages of the charity's internal documents and emails, as well as interviews with a dozen current and former officials.

> The Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people, but the number of permanent homes the charity has built is six.

By all means, donate to a deserving charity. The RC probably isn't one.


I remember that story when it broke. But I thought there was a good reason why they didn't build houses. I can't remember, but it was something like the people didn't own the land they lived on, so building would have been giving the land owner a free house, not a hurricane victim. Or else armed thugs would steal any structure built.


So every blood drive is basically free money for the medical industry. We get the feeling of doing good while they charge the patient probably excessivly large amounts of money behind out backs Thays so sleazy. My aunt got bit by a rattle snake and her emergency room costs for one afternoon in the E.R were 48000 dollars. All they did was give her anitvenom and observe. I'm sure that would cost next to nothing in another country. Such a sketch industry.

As to the Red Cross, It also feels pretty sketch.

https://www.npr.org/2014/12/04/368453320/red-cross-misstates...


That's a good reason not to donate to the red cross. There are other organizations out there with extremely high efficiency ratios and noble missions, and you shouldn't let one highly publicized rotten apple poison the rest.


You quit donating to charity because one specific charity is egregiously bad? Isn't that a bit like ceasing to eat because you had something yucky once?


... one specific charity was accused of doing something bad.

The Red Cross is frequently accused of having excessive management costs and mismanaging funds; if you do a little research (a) they appear to have reasonable overhead (b) a lot of the accusations seem to come from competing charities with higher overheads.



Just out of curiosity, can you find a source for the "26% spent on fundraising" figure? Charity Navigator only goes back to the 2000s and never shows anything near that.

Charity Navigator: https://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/international-ser... Haiti spending: https://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/international-ser...


Yeah I just donate to actual organizations that are changing the world like the ACLU.


...

They're a charity. You didn't stop donating to charity.


Thanks for the correction!


“No thanks, I choose my own charities.”


ha, I had a job interview recently and they had me do a take home thing. They offered to pay me for it, just a few hundred dollars for the time I put in. That's cool.

But in the email they asked if I wanted the money, or I could donate it.

Right now I could use the money, but now I feel just a little bad about it.


So you replied that you'll donate the money yourself to the charity of your choosing?


To which they replied, "no worries let me know your favorite charity and we'll send it over right away!" LOL


Here the potential employer is clearly looking for an indication of the financial situation of the candidate, to be in the position of power when negotiating the salary. So it would be important to deny this data. A simple "Here's my bank account, I'll donate it myself" should be enough.


They had already rejected me, so who cares.

Though I do appreciate your well cultivated sense of suspicion and cynicism. Keep it up!


Before Trump's tax law which upped the standard deduction to the point very few have the ability to deduct... a benefit of donating yourself is your can deduct it from your taxes.


But, you'd have to recognize it as earned income; and you'd have to pay self employment taxes on it; making the donation cost you money.

-- OR --

You file it as income to your sole proprietorship or llc; you "sponsor" something charitable as an expense.

Either way, the deduction and the income are at best 0 sum.

Though, if it's less than $600; they may not file a 1099 and you may "forget" to report it.


I'm a little confused on your comment? Is this in regards to how to deduct a donation post-Trump tax law?

I'm a regular salaried employee, all my income is reported on a W2. Pre-Trump, if I donated $ to my favorite charity...it's deductible if I exceed standard deduction.


Pre 2018 or post are the same for how the deduction is a deduction and not a credit.

That is to say that on w2 income you will pay payroll tax and on 1099 you may pay self employment tax -- in addition to income tax. You then get to deduct the income tax only. So the presented case, to get paid a small sum as a contractor that either you or the company will donate to a charity; it's going to be a net 0 or net negative to take the income and then donate it 100% compared to letting the company donate it.

The relevant changes were to the standard deduction and the % cap (if you're donating >50% of your income). Technically, the standard deduction doesn't matter here at all, that's a choice, it would be a net negative for the filer to choose itemized over the standard if they don't exceed the standard.

The 2018 changes also effect the pass through rate, so there is a small possibility that if you took payment in your pte, you'd be taxed at 21% cap, your business didn't make enough to pay self employment tax, and then you donate the money from your normal earned income at the 22 or 24% rate.


Figure this is an appropriate time to share this story: went to Whole Foods a little while back and the cashier seemed nearly terrified that she'd be terminated if she didn't make sure to ask before checkout if the customer was a Prime member. I'm pretty sure she said that other people had been for forgetting.


How is that any different from grocery stores asking everyone if they have a reward card, clothing stores asking if you have their credit card, McDonald's asking if you want to super-size that, or bartenders being required to offer to upsell liquor?

It's extremely common for cashiers to be required to ask if customers are part of whatever program is relevant, if they would like the current promotion, etc. Nobody's going to get fired for forgetting once... but if you're reminded repeatedly by management and you continue not to, then what would you expect to happen?


One of the things I used to like about shopping at Whole Foods - no stupid club pricing.

Yeah, I have prime - but I am not putting the app on my phone and don't want to give my phone number out, or be bothered too. Just let me buy my groceries in piece.


>One of the things I used to like about shopping at Whole Foods - no stupid club pricing

Of course not; everything there is (was?) insanely expensive because they knew their core customers would pay.


Everything? No. Certain produce, bulk items, and white label products were cost competitive, and often cheaper, than regular groceries. At least that was true ~15 years ago when I used to shop there regularly, and save money, in the DC area.


Yes, WF prices are often cheaper for the exact same products vs. other stores, it's just that they also carry a more expensive organic natural chemical-free locally sourced indie niche upgrade of the same thing next to it.


I beg to differ. Below is my source that (I took the photos). $4 at Asian grocery store vs $10. Regular price at Asian store is $5 It's coffee from New Orleans, nothing exotic.

http://imgur.com/gallery/BrHhzVx


I love how the asian grocery store accurately labels it as "coffee with chicory" whereas whole foods just calls it "regular coffee"


The coffee you posted is arranged in a aesthetically pleasing manner which justifies a higher price for the yuppies who don't have the time to cross shop.

The higher price may make people think they are buying a premium quality product, and derive additional pleasure of consuming luxury goods even while not knowing it was marked up peasant food.


You’re paying at the club stores, they’re just spreading it out over different items you buy. WH might still be more but the club isn’t about leaving money on the table.


>WH might still be more

Sure is. I understand that the club nonsense is a marketing stunt, but at the end of the day WH is (was?) overpriced, which is all that matters.


It took me a while to get the Amazon app on my phone. Now it’s one of the most useful apps I have. I love being able to quickly drop something in my cart in like two taps just as I think about it, or scan a barcode to double check the price of something.

If you do a lot of shopping on Amazon anyway the app is a win.

Once I can use it to scan groceries as I put them in the cart and walk straight to the car it’ll be even better.


Scanning groceries as you shop and not having to take them out of the cart again at a till has existed at Waitrose since at least the year 2000


I do it at Stop&Shop with a dedicated scanner all the time. Does anyone do it with a smartphone app?


You don't need the Whole Foods app. Just go to your Amazon app, go to the shopping cart, and click "Whole Foods Code."

Note: you may have to link your phone number to your Amazon account at the link below before this works:

https://www.amazon.com/primesavings


They're looking for any reason to fire old employees so they can hire new employees at lower wages. This is one of the reasons unions exist.


but if you're reminded repeatedly by management and you continue not to, then what would you expect to happen?

I’d expect a massive fucking award for not constantly pissing off customers with this nonsense.


And you'd be fired because no one else lives in the world you've created in your head.


And that's part of the problem.

I go to Super Duper in SF, and every time, the employee is forced to ask: "Have you been to Super Duper before?" If I say yes, "Welcome back!" if I say no, "Welcome!"¹. It is pointless. All I want is lunch. Want to see that I've been here before? You have my credit card number…

¹The exact words might not be right, the point is that there is no meaningful difference to the customer between the responses.


>"Welcome!"¹. It is pointless. All I want is lunch.

Yeesh. If that bugs you then... just lighten up. Most people aren't anti-social to such an extreme. You're the odd man out here, not the rest of humanity.


You're the odd man out here, not the rest of humanity.

Really? People like the forced conviviality? In San Francisco, one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country? With a sizable number of first-generation immigrants, unacculturated to the strange customs of the USA?

Why can't we have attentive food service, where they pour you fresh coffee the second you sign them to but not earlier, and where they don't intrude on the conversation every 3 to 5 minutes?


You can, you just have to avoid chain restaurants to do so.


rest of the US

Most of the world doesn’t have the bizarre forced scripted friendliness in customer service that the US has. People are allowed to be polite or friendly in their own personal way.


I was shocked at how obviously insincere servers were when I first went to the US - at least in my home country sure you get grumps but when someone gives good service it feels like a connection with them... not a faux polite scripted exchange.

I prefer it - but fast food countries value consistency over higher highs and lower lows.


Lol, "have you dined with us before" is the most irritating thing. I usually want to say, "no, but I've dined at a thousand other restaurants, will this be radically unfamiliar?"


In my experience servers ask this to find out if they should give the longer description of the menu or not. If you have been there before they might just tell you the specials, while if you haven't they'll tell you about some of the most popular items and anything unique about the way they do things (tapas style, etc.).


I've not once received useful information when answering this question honestly. Maybe because my face is also too honest :)


> All I want is lunch.

All they want is to know whether they need to explain to you in detail or if you already have a sense of the menu.

Not sure what you find odd with people trying to provide you good service. smh


Except in the case you're replying to.. which seems to indicate there's no difference in response from the employee.


> All they want is to know whether they need to explain to you in detail or if you already have a sense of the menu.

You missed the point of my post: they don't explain the menu to you in detail, if you answer in the negative. This particular part of their script occurs after you order to, so there isn't even an opportunity.

Their menu is also bog-standard hamburgers, with not a whole lot of options.

> trying to provide you good service

No service is being provided during this part of the interaction, is my point. The whole thing would be more pleasurable if it was genuine, and not a forced, scripted word track.


Is using your credit card number for this purpose ethical? Is it legal? Is it desirable?


Now that's just being antisocial.


Don’t worry Matthew, I live there. We can start our own company and hire each other, and we’ll never talk to customers, ever. We sell silence. Come to Matthew’s head and pay us not to talk to you. It’s like Disneyland for grown ups.


So the “real” world is one ruled by corporations where the decision maker on all policies is someone that never comes within earshot of an actual customer transaction?

I guess that is arguably the world we have been trending towards but it’s not the only viable world.


> So the “real” world is one ruled by corporations where the decision maker on all policies is someone that never comes within earshot of an actual customer transaction?

The real world is one where you do the job you're paid to do.


> The real world is one where you do the job you're paid to do.

Actually the real world is the one where the FTC has largely given up on regulating monopolistic behaviour and The Department of Labor has abdicated its responsibility of protecting workers from abusive employers. In this real world the only moral principle that anyone cares about is profit.


I get it. I know that. It’s not the cashier’s fault. It just kinda sucks that a transaction as simple as “buying some food” is now draped in this nonsense.


It does, but from their perspective, it works. Stores make more money (via numerous avenues) with stuff like this, so they'll continue to do it.


I do. I am a Prime member but when Whole Foods cashiers ask I say "no" because I just want to get the bullshit over with and get out of there.


That's not the point; you don't get awards for purposefully and repeatedly violating company policy on a hunch that the customers prefer it.

And you're actually validating Amazon's policy: you're annoyed and yet you're still both a Prime member and a WF client, which means they lost nothing by annoying you.


For business "annoyance" is like a hidden debt that keeps accumulating until it reaches a threshold where they have to pay for the whole amount.


Very true.

I just cancelled my prime account after multiple "annoyances" of packages not coming in 3 days, being dropped at the post office instead and getting delayed a day, and the straw that broke the camel's back - no compensation for missed delivery dates. I had to twist an agent's arm like crazy to get a month of prime.


No, you don't live in the world that matthewmacleod described. You live in a world where the customer doesn't want to put up with the nonsense. We all live in that world.

But matthewmacleod lives in a world where the cashier will be rewarded (rather than fired) for ditching the script and just getting on with it. We'd all like to live in matthewmacleod's world, but I don't think any of us actually do...


Yeah, I appreciate that it’s a bit of a fantasy world.

This happens at shops I occasionally use in the UK now too, and with some of them it’s bad enough that I actively avoid shopping in them if there’s any possible alternatives. Point is that this kind of incessant nagging is another metrics-driven measure that doesn’t necessarily have the expected results.


If you're so bothered to be there, why did you go in the first place? You know Prime members get an addition discount on top of sale items, yes? Do you enjoy paying more for your groceries?


Guess what? You create more business by not annoying your customers and providing awesome service. These poor attempts at annoying your customers means you will have less of them.


Customer satisfaction improvements cost money, which drives up prices, which loses customers. The highest customer satisfaction results tend to be associated with luxury brands.

The wisdom of annoyances that increase profit-per-customer yet lose some customers all depends on if it results in a net gain or a loss.

The mobile game ecosystem (pay-to-win) and the dominant web content model (ads) both suggest that some degree of annoyance is the more popular path.


Where's the evidence of that? SO you think the people espousing these programs are all drooling morons and would make more money without them? I think you're wrong.


Yes quite frankly I do think they are drooling morons that provide lower quality service instead of focusing on making their customer happy.


How are you annoying customers by giving them an opportunity to save money? Perhaps the customer is a Prime member and doesn't know or doesn't recall that they will get a discount.


A Prime membership does not automatically save anyone money. It costs money to have it. It's perceived value is entirely subjective, and based on how you value what it offers. It also requires you giving Amazon more money to realize some of the benefits (e.g. free shipping only with Amazon [and their prices aren't always the lowest]).


Agree - Amazon could very easily add a QR page to their mobile app, and install scanners at registers that fetch a customer's Prime account. No cashier questioning necessary. If you want Prime benefits at Whole Foods, scan your phone.


You've perfectly discribed the system that already exists. There's a WF app, and there's also a page in the Amazon App that offers the QR Code. Sometimes the scanners installed on the customer side of the POS don't work, so the cashier has to scan it manually. Personally I love being asked if I have a prime account, because they only ask when I haven't already scanned my code, which is something I want to do.


This is exactly what every WF already has. You scan a QR code from your phone on a scanner that faces the customer.

(At least the ones in California and New Hampshire, so I assume everywhere in between.)


At the Whole Foods I shop at (NYC) they already have that.


already exists, I did that a few weeks ago at WF, but I forgot the search terms (no, it didn't seem intuitive enough, but I suspect that will improve)


They are separate entity from amazon afaik, and are unrelated to grochery shopping.

Imagine every time pumping at BP being asked if you need libricant oil for your plane (that you dont have but they keep asking every time).

Further the whole thing is a scam - wholefoods advertise Prime as get extra 10% off shopping but upon inqury I was told there are only some 60 items in the whole store that are Prime discounted. Thats far from literally their ad “take extra 10% off your shopoing with Prime”


Funny you mention BP, my local BP gas stations actually ask people if they have the card of a grocery's shop chain, since it give 3 cents/litre off.


Presumably the difference is that Amazon is much more likely to punish you for it. I worked at a grocery store in college (Roundy's) and I was never "terrified" about failing to push memberships.


I did a weird double-take when I asked why a sale (yellow-labeled) item didn't ring up as discounted and the cashier asked if I had Prime. He then asked me to search "whole foods QR code" on my Amazon app. I just ... didn't love it.


Guessing they are attempting to maximize linkage of Prime user records to WH purchase habits, so getting you to provide the QR code is just a backup way for them to do so.


Such a bizarre juxtaposition, it feels like it came out of The Onion.


You can use the Prime app to have a drone deliver you the correct identification documents, which are printed at a desk across from the cashier, which employees are not allowed to touch.


Is Amazon really this trigger happy?


This is the company where people piss in water bottles and leave them around the warehouse because they are so afraid of being fired for going to the bathroom.


Can’t imagine a company where you would be fired for the latter rather than the former.


I've been noticing subtle amazonification of the stores and they are all for the worse.


You seem to be reaching there, jumping to conclusions that she was terrified of getting fired. How do you tell all that from just someone being apologetic?


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