(en) Farm workers' response to Gardenburger

Shawn Ewald (shawn@wilshire.net)
Thu, 4 Dec 1997 12:09:17 -0700

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------- Forwarded Message Follows ------- Date: Thu, 4 Dec 1997 05:57:11 -0800 (PST) To: CLR All Campaigns e-mail list <clr@igc.org> From: Mike Rhodes <clr2@igc.apc.org> Subject: Farm workers' response to Gardenburger

Labor Alerts: a service of Campaign for Labor Rights

To receive our email labor alerts, send a message to CLR@igc.apc.org Phone: (541) 344-5410 Web site: http://www.compugraph.com/clr Become a member and receive our (hard copy) newsletter. Send $35.00 to Campaign for Labor Rights, 1247 "E" Street SE, Washington, DC 20003. Sample newsletter available on request; include your postal address.


NOTE: On November 23, Campaign for Labor Rights posted an alert on the Oregon farm workers' primary boycott of FLAV-R-PAC and their secondary boycott of Gardenburger. Thanks to all of you who took the time to write to the Gardenburger company, asking them to stop using the growers' NORPAC Food Sales distribution system and instead to switch to one of the readily available alternatives. Those who wrote to Gardenburger all received an identical letter from Steve Bryant of Gardenburger. A number of you passed his letter on to us. We contacted Erik Nicholson of the Oregon farm workers union. This alert is based on information provided by him.

UPDATE: Students at Willamette University in Salem, OR have now successfully organized to get Gardenburgers off campus. Students passed a resolution calling on the food service not to sell any Gardenburger or NORPAC Foods product. This is the third Northwest campus to join the boycott. The other two are Reed College in Portland and Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.

RESPONSE TO GARDENBURGER (based on information provided by Erik Nicholson of PCUN, the Oregon farm workers union)

Gardenburger claims that the two NORPACs just happen to share the same name. In addition, they also share the same logo, office and telephone number. How many unrelated companies do the same? I asked Gardenburger CEO Lyle Hubbard that very question, and all he did was smile. It's clear to us that Gardenburger does not believe its own rhetoric.

NORPAC Food Sales is the sole sales and distribution agent for NORPAC Foods. Anyone wanting to purchase FLAV-R-PAC products (the NORPAC Foods brand name) must go through NORPAC Food Sales. The two companies depend upon one another for their mutual economic survival. We have several NORPAC Foods and NORPAC Food Sales documents which refer to the two entities as "us" and "we," not "us" and "them." We also have a copy of a letter written on NORPAC Food Sales stationery arguing against supporting our boycott of NORPAC Foods. In that letter, no distinction is made between the two companies.

When we first called for a secondary boycott of Gardenburger in March of 1996, I talked with the then president of Gardenburger. He said flat-out that the issue is money. Gardenburger is making money out of their dealings with NORPAC Food Sales and, for that reason, he saw no reason to change distributors.

Gardenburger claims to be a "socially responsible company." However, Gardenburger has refused all invitations to sit down and negotiate about this issue, including an effort undertaken by members of the Provender Alliance (the Northwest natural foods organization). Gardenburger's production facility is non-union. When we leafleted the plant last year to inform the workers of our boycott and to let them know that they were not the target of our campaign, several of them were excited because they thought we were there to start a union drive at the Gardenburger plant! Furthermore, Gardenburger is now moving their production to Utah, a so-called "right-to-work" (i.e., union-busting) state.

Gardenburger founder Paul Wenner has now gone on the record defending the labor practices of the very growers his company is subsidizing. In an interview with the Boulder (Colorado) Weekly, Wenner said the conditions for Oregon farm workers aren't that bad and that some workers make up to $8 an hour. Compare that to what Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon said about farm worker conditions being "an affront to basic human dignity." From our perspective, there's not a whole lot about Gardenburger that's "socially responsible."

The Gardenburger aspect of our boycott is analogous to the call for divestment from South Africa under apartheid. Shell was boycotted because of their business dealings in South Africa. We are boycotting Gardenburger because their business relationship with NORPAC Food Sales subsidizes the sales and distribution expenses for NORPAC growers. If we do not address the attempt by NORPAC growers to side-step our boycott of their products, our boycott cannot be successful.

For copies of any of the documents mentioned in this alert, send a request to eriknicholson@pcun.org

You can visit the Oregon farm worker union web site at: www.pcun.org


1) Boycott Gardenburger and FLAV-R-PAC. Urge your friends, family, church group, school, workplace, food co-op or favorite restaurant to do the same. This is the most direct and effective strategy at your disposal.

2) Send an email to Gardenburger urging them to stop underwriting the exploitation of Oregon's farm workers and stop using NORPAC's distribution system. Gardenburger's email address is: whfi5@mail.easystreet.com Please send PCUN a copy of your letter: FarmworkerUnion@pcun.org

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