B Corp Distinction for Amy’s Kitchen Doesn’t Reflect Reality of Workers’ Injuries and Poor Treatment on the Job
(SAN FRANCISCO) – In a complaint filed late last week challenging the B Corp certification of Amy’s Kitchen on behalf of long-time employee Cecilia Luna Ojeda, Teamsters Local 665 Principal Officer Tony Delorio stated:
“Amy’s Kitchen has demonstrated a callous disregard for workers’ health, safety, and human rights in violation of the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence.”
The complaint calls for B Lab, the organization that grants B Corp certifications, to reconsider Amy’s certification status.
According to B Lab’s Declaration of Interdependence, B Corp Certified companies believe that “business ought to be conducted as if people and place mattered” and that “the business should aspire to do no harm and benefit all.” Unfortunately, this does not match the experience of many workers at the Amy’s Kitchen production facility in Santa Rosa, Calif. Despite the company’s wholesome origin story and commitment to provide families organic food, frontline workers report dangerous and degrading conditions.
The complaint notes the self-assessment questionnaire Amy’s Kitchen filed for its certification failed to disclose relevant information.
Over the past decade, Amy’s Kitchen has paid more than $100,000 to settle serious federal health and safety violations from the Department of Labor’s Office of Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) including $95,750 in penalties paid within five years of Amy’s certification questionnaire, which the company failed to disclose.
Ojeda is one of several workers profiled in a January NBC News report on workplace injuries at Amy’s Kitchen. She sustained injuries from repetitive work on the line, resulting in casts on both of her arms, making it impossible to work or carry her baby for months. Other workers have sought medical care for similar injuries.
Workers have reported they are not always able to access the restroom or clean drinking water during shifts due to pressure to maintain line speeds; however, the company did not disclose this in its B Corp filing.
The company also stated it does not prohibit “freedom of association.” However, according to the complaint, Amy’s Kitchen “has waged an aggressive campaign of intimidation to undermine workers’ efforts to organize a union and have a voice on the job. The company has retained outside ‘union avoidance consultants’ to persuade workers not to join a union.”
Delorio further stated, “Amy’s Kitchen should not benefit from the B Corp certification unless or until all frontline workers enjoy true freedom of association, are treated with dignity and respect, and have safe working conditions. It is impossible for B Lab to know from a checklist and a company’s own self-assessment what conditions are really like for workers. I hope your investigation will consider the experiences of Cecilia and her co-workers and not just rely on the company’s account.”
The vegan, vegetarian, and immigrant rights community have spoken in support of Amy’s Kitchen workers, most of whom are Latina women workers. Most recently, at a Feb. 26 rally in Petaluma, Calif., Veggie Mijas and Food Empowerment Project joined Amy’s Kitchen workers and their Teamsters advocates as they amplified the call for the boycott of Amy’s products.
In December, a Cal/OSHA complaint by Ojeda was filed on behalf of her coworkers, along with testimony provided by her coworkers at the Santa Rosa facility.
The workers in Santa Rosa have repeatedly and publicly demanded a meeting with Amy’s Kitchen CEO Andy Berliner, along with their Teamster advocates, to find a permanent solution to the workplace injuries, high health care costs and conditions at the facility. They’ve stated they want the company to succeed, but not at the expense of workers, and that they’re eager for a safer work environment.