A self-proclaimed socially conscious vegan food maker on Friday laid off all of its production staff in North Carolina, infuriating workers who said the lack of notice and severance pay was not in line with the declared values ââof the company.
Audio of the dismissal announcement at No bad food provided to HuffPost by a source captured of stunned workers shouting at business leaders who broke the news.
“So we’re getting fired so you can stay alive?” A worker told company general manager Mike Woliansky as Woliansky explained that the facility would be closed.
Several workers reacted in disbelief after the company’s head of human resources, Drew Pollick, explained that they would be paid for Friday’s work, but nothing more because “we are out of money” .
Workers were heard screaming “Screw you all” and “Kiss my ass !”
âYou can’t tell me there’s absolutely no money,â one said.
“They got a better deal – the ones who screwed up,” added one worker, apparently referring to the management of the company.
No Evil Foods, based in Weaverville, north of Asheville, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday.
They preached all of these things, but at the end of the day … they were very, very dogged.
Mike Rapier, who was fired at No Evil Foods
Woliansky told the meeting that No Evil Foods was counting on another injection of money which recently failed. He said the pandemic presented a number of challenges for the company and that executives had decided to move to a co-manufacturing model, rather than having its own dedicated facility.
âThe reality of the situation is that the business is basically strapped for cash, and now we’re really forced to make some really big, really tough changes,â he said in audio obtained by HuffPost. “It’s a question of whether or not there will be a No Evil.”
Mike Rapier, one of the workers who spoke at the meeting, said in an interview with HuffPost that company executives deserve all the backtalk. No Evil Foods describes itself as a goal oriented food manufacturer, seeking to tackle “Food insecurity, economic justice and climate changeâThrough herbal options. Some of its products make cheeky nods to socialism, like Comrade Cluck without Chicken.
Rapier said business leaders often talk about the workforce as a family. That’s why Rapier, a production worker, expected more than a letter of recommendation and a flyer about an upcoming career fair.
âWe would have big monthly meetings on core values ââand family, respecting and saving the world,â said Rapier, who added that he had not done the audio recording. âThey preached all of these things, but at the end of the dayâ¦ they were very, very dogged. “
Companies are generally not required to pay severance pay unless a contract requires it. Sometimes employers are required to give 60 days or more notice under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act or similar state laws, but the collective dismissal at No Evil Foods appears to be small enough that the law does not does not apply.
Rapier estimated there were between 30 and 50 workers made redundant on Friday, although he said more were made redundant earlier in the year. The layoffs were first reported by Initiated.
This is not the first time that workers have accused No Evil Foods of not respecting its socially responsible image. The company vigorously opposed a union campaign last year, holding meetings with a captive audience and urging workers to vote against the effort with the United Food and Commercial Workers union. When the audio of these meetings was posted on the Internet, the company made legal efforts to have them removed.
The company fired two workers involved in the organizing effort, claiming they had violated the establishment’s social distancing rules. The two workers, Jon Reynolds and Cortne Roche, accused the company of unlawful retaliation, and the National Labor Relations Board general counsel filed a complaint. As Jacobin recently reported, No Evil Foods settled these claims by paying Reynolds $ 20,000 and Roche $ 22,500.
Rapier said he really enjoys working at No Evil Foods. He eats meat and didn’t buy into the company’s plant-based food mission, but he considered it a solid job and loved his coworkers. He left Ace Hardware a year ago to work at No Evil Foods.
According to Rapier, the company had recently invested in equipment that did not adapt well to its production, resulting in frequent shutdowns. He said he felt things were not going well. Still, Rapier said, given No Evil Foods’ mission, he assumed the company would try to give workers a softer landing.
âThey talked about the conversation but they didn’t follow suit as far as their philosophy is concerned. They just dumped us, âhe said. “This kind of upheaval isn’t fair, the way they went about it.”
Rapier, 59, said his health insurance through No Evil Foods ended immediately on Friday and he was not sure he could find coverage he could afford. As for his next work plans, Rapier said he plans to go to this job fair.
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