Julia Flores is a 15 year employee of the P St Whole Foods who was fired from her job for organizing workers and informing them about such laws as the minimum wage. On the 13th of January, the IWW escalated the campaign demanding her job back by blocking the streets in front of another Whole Foods in Foggy Bottom.
Whole Foods is trying to claim that Julia stole an item worth less than $10 after working there for 15 years. Nobody is believing this spurious claim, but this is how Whole Foods is attempting to stave off legal proceedings for violating labor laws. Firing workers for attempting to organize a union is illegal but a common practice, employers always make up some other reason for firing and dare workers to prove otherwise in court.
In addition to the legal proceedings, the IWW is holding Whole Foods accountable to the public with actions like the Jan 13 street blockade and picket that educate the public, drive away business, and create public relations problems with the surrounding neighborhood. There is a strong probability that Whole Foods will be hearing from other businesses in the area whose customers had trouble getting to them.
Activists from DC Stampede (an animal rights group) joined the IWW in this protest as a solidarity matter. Whole Foods has come to the attention of DC Stampede and Direct Action Everywhere (XDXE) in the past for ripping off their customers with meat alleged to be “cruelty-free” that was proven by a video to be from ordinary factory farms. Still earlier, the P st Whole Foods (the one that fired Juilia) played a role in the gentrification of Shaw. They were the first grocery store in that area to keep dumpsters locked up and use compactors. They absolutely refused to give a single scrap of discarded food to homeless service organizations in that time period (circa 2007). Finally. anarchists raided the P st Whole Foods during the October Rebellion (fall 2007 IMF protests), expropriated a large amount of food, and served it to the needy. In short, Whole Foods should be considered a repeat offender, a “frequent flier” for social justice campaigns.