- HelloFresh workers in the United States are seeking to unionize in an effort to improve the safety and sustainability of their jobs, according to an online petition posted by Unite Here, the union the workers are working with.
- The effort involves about 1,300 workers the German meal kit company employs at two facilities in Colorado and California, Vice reported.
- HelloFresh workers are organizing as the company sees rising demand for its products in the United States and other countries where it operates.
Employees at HelloFresh are demanding better working conditions against a backdrop of robust financial results by the company, which has grabbed a commanding position in the meal kit market.
HelloFresh has recorded strong sales during the pandemic and reported in August that it took in 15.6 million orders in the United States in the second quarter of 2021, up 75% from the same period last year. The company finished Q2 with 3.8 million active U.S. customers, an 93% year-over-year increase.
In a reflection of its results, Berlin-based HelloFresh is being added to the DAX, an index of major German companies that trade on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, on Monday. "Entering the DAX is another recognition of our success and of the hard work that our teams have been putting into getting HelloFresh to where it is now," Dominik Richter, co-founder and CEO of HelloFresh, said in a statement about that development.
But according to Unite Here, which represents 300,000 workers in a variety of industries in the United States and Canada, including 100,000 in the foodservice sector, HelloFresh has built its business at the expense of the people who assemble the meal kits it sells.
"While HelloFresh profited from the pandemic, employees faced disrespect, a COVID-19 outbreak and preventable injuries," Unite Here said in an introduction to its petition, which appears on a website hosted by the Action Network, a platform that helps organizations generate support for progressive causes.
Unite Here is also seeking support for its effort to organize HelloFresh workers on its Facebook page.
According to Vice, which first reported about the effort by HelloFresh workers to unionize, the organization effort involves workers at kitchens HelloFresh operates in Aurora, Colorado, and Richmond, California. Unite Here is seeking clearance from the National Labor Relations Board to hold a vote by workers at the Colorado facility, while workers at the kitchen in California are "signing up for the union in droves," Vice reported.
In an emailed statement sent to Grocery Dive, HelloFresh disputed Unite Here's assertion that it does not place a priority on the well-being of its workers.
"HelloFresh is deeply committed to providing a safe and respectful work environment and follows guidance provided by federal, state, and local law and any suggestion or implication to the contrary is untrue," the company said. "We believe that the employment package we offer is competitive and attractive to our current and prospective workforce, and we’ve made significant investments in employee welfare and safety to foster a workplace that is welcoming, collegial, empowering and safe."
The meal kit maker also said it will continue to comply with the National Labor Relations Act and all other federal, state and local labor laws and respect employees' decisions on whether or not to unionize.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from HelloFresh.
Correction: The headline and body of this story have been updated to reflect the fact that HelloFresh workers have not yet voted to join Unite Here. Also, a previous version of this story misstated the union's name.