Damaged goods: Costco joins UFW “equitable food” front group

In what promises to be a blow to its brand image, Costco has teamed up with a UFW front group to that will funnel money into the dying union and mislead customers into thinking that non-approved produce is “unsafe.”

The Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) is a Washington, DC-based lobby chaired by UFW Vice President Erik Nicholson.

Costco is heavily involved with EFI. The Initiative’s board secretary, Preston Witt, is Costco’s “Manager Supplier Code,” according to the EFI website.

Another EFI member, Farmworker Justice, has UFW General Counsel Mario Martinez on its board.

Costco has teamed up with the UFW to certify its fresh produce.

EFI “brings together workers, growers and retailers in the effort to produce better fruits and vegetables. As produce farms comply with the EFI Standard—for improved working conditions, pesticide management, and food safety—the entire food system sees benefits, all the way from farm workers to consumers,” according to the group’s website.

If that’s the case, why is the UFW involved? Its membership has shrunk 90 percent in recent years. UFW organizing in the fields “has completely disappeared,” according to California Agricultural Labor Relations Board Chairman William Gould IV. Indeed, Gould said in a January 28 speech:

  • “Union organizational activity in California agriculture at this moment is completely moribund.”
  • “. . . union activity has completely disappeared” among farmworkers.
  • “. . . union organizing has diminished to the point of non-existence!”

Costco has been silent about its UFW partner’s thuggish behavior against people who disagree with the union’s politics.

The UFW has gone to the dogs since the days of César Chávez. It represents less than 1% of California’s farmworkers.

Agricultural Labor Relations Board Chairman Gould admitted that California farmworkers don’t even want unions any more. In his own words:

  • “During these past two years, while I have been chairman, there has not been one single representation petition filed under a statute which requires certification through a petition in order for a union to be recognized.”
  • “There are quite a few decertification petitions which have been with us, some of them well-publicized.”

So why would Costco get in league with the UFW? We don’t know. All we know is that Costco has joined a UFW racket to pour more money into a dying union. Costco should be frank with its customers about this relationship.