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It seems that no matter what Whole Foods does to promote its commitment to the Boston community, it continues to answer the critics, even though it is now only about 200 people who have gone on record to oppose the construction of a new Whole Foods supermarket in the Hyde Square section of Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

Here is the email that the anti-Whole Foods group, Whose Foods?, issued on the morning of October 3:

Whole Foods must pay JP employees a living wage

Last Wednesday, Whole Foods market announced a job fair in Jamaica Plain this week. While the fair is an important step towards restoring jobs to 415 Centre St., Whole Foods has offered no guarantee that those jobs will pay well enough for workers to actually live in JP without housing assistance.

Nearly 200 neighbors have signed a statement demanding that Whole Foods pay a living wage to workers residing in Jamaica Plain and enter a binding agreement. Contrary to their glossy image, JP Whole Foods’ entry-level wages are below the living wage in Boston — $10 an hour to start, more than $3 an hour below what our city has determined to be a wage sufficient to keep a family of four on or above the poverty line.1 Whole Foods should pay all its workers a living wage.

Why does Jamaica Plain need a binding agreement to trust that Whole Foods will do right? Because Whole Foods has shown time and time again that it will do whatever it can to cut costs at the expense of good jobs. Whole Foods is the second largest non-union food retailer in the United States after Wal-Mart, and has also refused to hire union electricians for the Jamaica Plain store’s construction despite daily picketing by the IBEW for the last two weeks at the location. The Whose Foods / Whose Community? Coalition for an Affordable and Diverse JP stands in solidarity with the picketers.

Neighbors will continue to demand that Whole Foods pay its workers a living wage by entering into a binding agreement with Jamaica Plain. The agreement should also provide funding for anti-displacement work, affordable housing, youth programs, food assistance, and local business assistance.

By this afternoon, Whole Foods’ Northeast Regional Office had sent us a statement about the Whose Foods? email. Here it is:

Whole Foods Market is proud to be among the highest paying employers in the grocery industry.  Beyond paying above what our competitors pay, we offer benefits to full and part time employees, as well as a 20% discount on all Whole Foods Market purchases. Our generous wage and benefits package along with the fact that 70% of our team members are full time, are among the reasons we have been named on Fortune Magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” every year, for the past 14 years.  We would encourage anyone with concerns about our employees earning a living wage to visit our website for a full outline of our benefits.  www.wholefoodsmarket.com/careers

Prior to a new store opening, Whole Foods Market uses an open shop bid process to request and receive competitive bids for goods and services involved in the construction process. Contractors bid on the identical job and we make our decision based on quality and price — which is smart and standard business practice.

Whole Foods Market supports the rights of all workers, union and non-union, to work in a safe environment that is free from discrimination, harassment, and any other unlawful conduct. We work diligently to comply with all local, state and federal labor laws and we work hard to find the best partners to help us build our new stores. More than 50% of the sub-contractors that we hired for the new Jamaica Plain store are, in fact, union trade organizations.

In the end, the opinions of 200 people (some of whom don’t even live in JP) have been heard. Whole Foods has literally gone out of its way to respond their critics. With growing unemployment in this country, isn’t it time to just move on and let Whole Foods run a business? As people around the United States express their rage against corporations, they should be lucky that Whole Foods is actually the kind of corporation this country needs more of.

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Dear Jamaica Plain Residents,

I want to thank you for being so engaged in the discussion around our new Jamaica Plain Whole Foods Market. Many of you took the time to attend the June 2nd community meeting or write to me with your feedback. I want you to know that your letters have been read and your input has been heard.

Though the meeting did not end the way that any of us had hoped, we still feel that it was a productive evening filled with valuable dialogue with our future neighbors. We look forward to the meetings we will be having with community groups in the coming weeks. We are also awaiting the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council Ad Hoc Committee’s report. We are appreciative of all of the feedback that we receive as it helps us to create the store that best serves the community.

Those of you who attended the meeting got the opportunity to meet our Jamaica Plain Store Team Leader, Mike Walker, and Associate Store Team Leader, Wanda Hernandez. The emails that they have been receiving have offered great suggestions for ways we can support the local community as well as what products you are eager to find on our shelves.

SITE UPDATE: Over this summer you will see a lot of activity at the store site as we continue the extensive project of bringing the building up to code. The interior of the building has been cleared out and we will be completing the new roof in the coming weeks. It is very exciting to see the store beginning to take shape!

HIRING: As we approach the late fall opening, we will host our hiring event in the store parking lot. This event will be advertised in the local media as well as on Facebook and Twitter. As was mentioned in the community meeting, the Jamaica Plain store will have very limited employee parking, therefore we are hopeful that our store presents employment opportunities for folks who live within walking or biking distance of the store, or via public transportation.

COMMUNITY: It has been wonderful to hear from a number of non-profit organizations and community groups in Jamaica Plain. We are looking forward to the opportunity to support them with our community give-back programs.
We are also continuing to pursue the possibility of hosting a farmers market in our parking lot this summer. We love to support our local farmers and the opportunity to offer easy access to healthy, local produce is at the heart of who we are! Stay tuned for more updates on that.

FEEDBACK: I want to encourage you to continue sharing your feedback with us. Email us your product suggestions at JP_Products@wholefoods.com, or contact Mike and Wanda directly at na.jmp.stl@wholefoods.com or na.jmp.astl@wholefoods.com. Follow us on Twitter @wfm_jp.

Wishing you a happy and healthy summer!

Regards,
Laura Derba

Regional President
Whole Foods Market – North Atlantic Region

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In the spirit of complete transparency, we are publishing a comment from Universal Hub that was directed on a recent GUEST POSTthat JRV.com posted about the latest Whole Foods June 2 meeting in Jamaica Plain.

To post an account of “what happened” by Gretchen Van Ness, someone who has been publicly pro-WF for many months online and publicly, is not a way to give an objective perspective on what really happened. It is a complete lie for her to state that she saw someone, anyone, hitting a police officer once or repeatedly at that meeting. That did not happen. If it had, that person would have been swiftly arrested and charged.

Here are the facts:

“Three persons were arrested and will be summonsed on charges of disrupting a public assembly and trespassing, in the case of two persons, and disrupting a public assembly in the third” (JP Patch). Where in that statement is there anything about assaulting a police officer or anyone else at that meeting? It’s not there because it never, ever happened. If the only people who were arrested were charged with these charges, then how would someone who allegedly hit an officer not be arrested and charged? How would a police officer have just let a person off for hitting him/her, and not for displaying a banner? This is complete nonsense for Gretchen to write. Lies, lies, lies.

And for blogger Julio Varela to congratulate Gretchen (when he knows that she can’t be objective) and to use her account as one that is objective and real is completely unfair, too.

And, may I add, that displaying a banner peacefully is called freedom of speech. The folks on the balcony did it peacefully.

The folks downstairs who never got to display their banner (separate incident, which happened later) did not storm down any aisles and they did not disrespect anyone. They were standing in line waiting to speak and were trying to unfurl the banner (silently) when the cops came and grabbed it. That’s unconstitutional. Period.

Dear JPLatina11, like we have said from Day 1, we have offered anyone who opposes Whole Foods in JP the opportunity to blog about it here on our page. Under this one very IMPORTANT condition: You need to use your own name and not hide behind a anonymous posting.

And by the way, JPLatina11, last time we checked, we are a personal blog, we aren’t The New York Times, but your comments flatter us nonetheless. At least people in JP care. Don’t ever lose that passion.

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