Friday 13 July 2012
An urgent letter to all Whole Foods Market team members,
It is well known that since the Galleria store opened its doors eleven years ago that performance has greatly exceeded initial projections. This store’s success would look like a boon for both Whole Foods Market as a company and for the Saint Louis area. Many team members have been rewarded for this success. Our founding store leader, Tee Ayer, is a testament to where good management can take one’s career with the company and how one is remembered by long-time team members, team leaders, and even vendors. However, as of late there have been some developments that threaten the continuation of Galleria’s outstanding performance level. It is for this reason we have decided to bring several points to your attention.
Team members in the Galleria store are alarmed at what appears to be a blatant disregard for the third Core Value of “Supporting Team Member Happiness and Excellence.” The Galleria store and certainly many other WFM stores globally, have always sought passionate, committed, socially responsible team members who would easily and happily uphold the Core Values. These beliefs and defining characteristics of many team members seem devalued now in a store that is managed in the way Whole Foods Market Galleria has been managed as of late.
There is an overwhelming consensus among Galleria team members the current working environment is hostile, foreboding and degrading. It is very apparent to many regardless of the duration of employment. Poor management skills have encouraged “just deal with it”, “keep your head down” and “comply or find another job” attitudes and reactions from leadership. This is not the way a proud store like Galleria should be managed, this is not what store leaders should be telling team leaders to pass down to their teams. Certainly this is not the language of motivation and encouragement, but the language of control and fear mongering.
This has NEVER been the atmosphere at the Galleria store! Until now.
All here at the Galleria store delight in knowing that our store continues to remain on a high level of performance and that it is well-thought of throughout the company by those who have a total overview of the Whole Foods family. It has been hard for most to retain this attitude while seeing labor budgets shrink, hours cut, gain sharing dwindle, raises restricted, and highly skilled (and highly paid) positions eliminated.
Most recently it has been made crystal clear for everyone at Galleria that Whole Foods is henceforth to be everyone’s number one priority in their lives. It is our opinion that the implementation of this new scheduling policy is completely disrespectful of team member’s lives and interests. Some flexibility is inherent in the nature of retail and we all want the store’s staffing needs to be met, but when religious team members are allowed to have set schedules while parents and students are expected to build their outside schedule to fit Whole Foods’ requirements 100%, there is a problem in the execution of the policy. We do not expect to see all admin team members scheduled on weekends, nor should we require them to be. Similarly, buyers must work ordering and receiving hours for the companies they order from and receivers are not needed on the weekends. It is apparent that each team has different scheduling requirements and each team leader should be given the authority to manage his or her team to fit the needs of the business. To have a strict “rule” that all schedules are subjugated to an unnecessarily rigid Whole Foods schedule leaves zero room for those valued employees who may have daycare requirements, educational course conflicts, second jobs, or perhaps situations where parents need to temporarily care for ill children.
Leadership should realize that a part of their duties is to interpret the Gig Book responsibly when there is leeway provided. It should be obvious that creating inflexible “rules” to the detriment of “Team Member Happiness and Excellence” is contrary to the goals all should strive for as fellow team members.
Many team members who were previously super-stars are less motivated to work as hard and have taken to “just keeping their heads down” at the advice of leadership. The firing of several long time team members for vague, unstated, or contrived reasons has created palpable fear of sudden unemployment. Reactions like “comply or find another job” have plainly shown that we are dispensable. There are some of us who can no long be treated like commodities. Why should we be forced out? Whole Foods has always made team members a part of the foundation of the company, we have right to defend our stake and remain with a company that has so much potential to do good.
It would not be grossly overstated to say morale is at an all-time low and veteran team members have never felt so unappreciated. Unfortunately, the TMAG program is ill-equipped to handle situations like these described and serious discussions by Regional Leadership with Galleria store leadership with the intent to insure compliance with our third core value is part of the answer. We want nothing more than to replace this hostile environment with one that truly values and empowers hard working and committed team members.
trueTMAG, an anonymous collection of current and former team members
We have David Schwartz and Michael Bashaw in the store today for question and answer sessions. Please, please, please do not speak to these folks or any other regional folks for that matter. They are not here to listen to and consider your concerns and make changes. The only thing that they might be actually concerned about is this whole Jake thing, and the federal sexual harassment laws that could come into play. This visit is a house cleaning measure, they wish to identify the squeaky wheels, the most outspoken and unsatisfied employees. After these people are identified they will be fired, Whole Foods is no different than Wal-Mart in their willingness to break unions and fire anyone they see as having low “morale” or affecting morale on the store or on the team. That is what they fired Elicia in produce for, they said she was bringing down morale on the produce department, and they fired her even though she had no write ups or counseling statements and a stellar work history with wfm. They dont need a reason to fire you, so don’t give them an excuse to do so. We all know that all Bashaw and Schwartz care about is the money, thats why all the team leaders quake in their boots every time these folks head into town. They are concerened about their “million dollar store”, this store is a cash cow for the region and the company as a whole. They are interested in protecting the assets of the stock holders and making sure that the money keeps flowing. If you think they care about your concerns you are sorely mistaken. Benefits lowered, top out pays lowered or stagnant for years, schedules changed at the whim of leadership, tiny raises that are hard to come by, increased workload and accountability, no sick days, an egregious point system that penalizes people for being sick and basically encourages them to come to work sick so they don’t get an attendance point, benefits promised for years if you get to 10,000 service hours are now being changed at the whim of the stockholders, cleaning house of seasoned and elderly t.m.s, lower availability of full time positions. Who even knows what kind of benefits we will have in another 4 or 5 years, people who have worked here most of their adult lives will be faced with broken promises from an employer that they worked so hard for, for such a long time. All the while we smash comp projections and sales records like a world series team, and who sees the benefit? We barely get a pat on the back let alone a $5 meal voucher for breaking these records and busting our tails. The people in store leadership make massive bonuses everytime we break these records, bonuses that would pay to give all of us a reasonable raise once a year. If I was to start my own business I would be damn proud to have a lot of the people I work with work for me, its a shame that they get nitpicked, disrespected and generally treated like shit by their employer that claims to care so much about team member “happiness” I am extremely proud of a lot of the people that I work with, they are an extremely hard working and dedicated group of people. I have never seen people at any grocery store or retail store work as hard all day as the people I do here at the galleria store. And I am not speaking of store leadership here, it seems the only way you can grow fat and old with the company is to be a member of store leadership. Otherwise you will be forced into part time status and eventually fired for not being able to “keep up the pace”. Its shameful when half of store leadership could not keep up the workload and they want to push other people out for the same reaon. Do not trust regional, do not trust store leadership.
How do you want customers to support us? What do you want customers to know about and take away from our situation? Who do you want to be reading this?