Vegan food company touting social justice lays off workers without notice

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A vegan food manufacturer that uses socialist-inspired branding laid off all its production employees without warning or severance.

No Evil Foods, which is based in North Carolina and claims that it uses “food as a force for good,” announced the layoffs to workers on Friday. Employees expressed anger and shouted, “Screw all of y’all” and “f*** you!” after Drew Pollick, the head of human resources, told them that the company will not be paying them past Friday, according to audio obtained by HuffPost.

“The reality of the situation is the company has essentially run out of money, and we’re now really forced to make some really big, really difficult changes,” CEO Mike Woliansky said to the workers. “It’s coming down to whether or not there will be a No Evil at all.”

Woliansky confirmed that the company fired all remaining production staff in a statement. He said that instead of having in-house manufacturing, the company would shift to a co-packing manufacturer.

“Our goal is to be a significant force for good in the food system with environmentally sustainable, socially conscious, plant-based foods,” the CEO said. “For a company of our size to survive in the hyper-competitive marketplace, the co-manufacturing model will be required going forward.”

The company touts itself as a business that brings people closer to the origins of their food “while addressing issues like food insecurity, economic justice, and climate change,” according to No Evil Foods’s website. Some of the faux meat the company sells is branded with socialist themes such as “Comrade Cluck” and “El Zapatista,” apparently named for the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, a far-left revolutionary political and militant group in Mexico.

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“When we started No Evil Foods it wasn’t because we wanted to sell something, it was because we wanted to DO something. So we work hard to create valuable connections to inspire positive impacts,” the company claims.

Some workers felt antipathy toward the company’s leadership after the sudden announcement that they were now jobless. One former employee, Mike Rapier, said that the move smacked of hypocrisy.

Rapier told HuffPost that leadership of the company frequently spoke to the workers about their lofty ideals and tried to make them think of the work environment in a familial way. He said that all he got on the way out of the door was a leaflet about a job fair and a letter of recommendation.

“We would have big monthly meetings about core values and family and respect and save-the-world,” Rapier said. “They preached all of this stuff, but then when it came down to it … they were very, very cutthroat.”

The news comes more than a year after No Evil Foods presented employees with an ultimatum that they could either work through the pandemic and receive a perfect-attendance bonus, quit and receive no severance but have the option to return in the future, or resign with severance but no choice to return. They had only 24 hours to decide, a demand that upset workers and caused the company to lose 10% of its labor force, according to Insider.

Accusations of hypocrisy also swirled after the company embarked upon an apparent anti-union drive when some workers pushed to join the United Food and Commercial Workers union last year. No Evil Foods reportedly forced workers to attend mandatory anti-unionization meetings over the summer.

Now-former employee Colton Smith told WLOS that the layoffs shocked the workers and said he wished they would have been told in advance instead of being fired on the spot without any warning.

“They always said that we weren't people, we were family, you know, and we weren't called teammates or workers, we were family members,” Smith said. “You don't treat family members like that.”

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

The Washington Examiner contacted No Evil Foods for further comment about last week’s terminations but did not immediately receive a response.





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