Thursday, January 13, 2022
Produce over Politics: Whole Foods Fights for Right to Bar Political Advocacy in Workplace – JONATHAN TURLEY
In her consolidated complaint against Whole Foods Market, Inc., San Francisco Regional Director Jill Coffman declared that the company is violating the rights of workers in 10 different states (Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, Washington, Indiana, and California). Coffman maintained that “through this complaint, we hope to enforce the Act and protect workers’ rights to speak up about these important issues.”
The problem is that there are speech interests on both sides.
The complaint also highlights an increasingly incomprehensible position on corporate speech for many on the left. Democratic politicians (including President Biden) have called for more censorship and interventions from social media corporations to protect customers from their own dangerous proclivities in reading material. When some of us have objected to such censorship, advocates have insisted that these private companies have every right to limit speech under the First Amendment. Of course, the First Amendment argument in support of corporate censorship ignores that the amendment is not the exclusive measure of free speech. These companies, and their government supporters, have created the largest system of censorship in history and its impact on political and social speech is enormous.
Given that support for corporate censorship, you would think that Whole Foods would have support in limiting speech for its actual workers. It’s not censoring its customers, but rather keeping the company neutral on political issues as customers shop for wild caught salmon or organic avocados.
Whole Foods, it seems, does not want to follow social media companies like Twitter and effectively write off whole groups within its customer base.
In claiming workers have the right “to speak up about these important issues,” the NLRB complaint does not grapple with the obvious problem: Can employees wear “Blue Lives Matter” or pro-life or pro-choice masks? How about “Proud Boy” or “MAGA” masks?
The NLRB complaint also does not state if workers can wear hats or other garments to proclaim political viewpoints. Some companies like McDonalds require actual uniforms. Would those uniforms now be subject to “important” messaging by workers — or do companies like Whole Foods have to require actual unifor