SAN FRANCISCO—A new Whole Foods in San Francisco could be delayed for a few years due to opposition, as first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday, November 18.

Whole Foods is looking to open another store in San Francisco in a building that has been vacant since Best Buy closed in 2017.  If approved it will become the eighth Whole Foods location in the city of San Francisco.

There from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) oppose the idea arguing that Whole Foods, owned by Amazon, makes employees work under terrible conditions and are not friendly to unions.

Amazon’s working conditions have been criticized before the coronavirus pandemic.  In February 2020, more than a dozen members of Congress sent a letter to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos to demand answers on its alleged toxic work environment.

In the letter, it says that investigations found that the company’s “injury rate of workers at Amazon facilities is much higher than the injury rate for private sector employers in the U.S.”

At the time, Amazon released a statement that read “nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of our employees.”

Mark Wolfe, an attorney representing UFCW and several SF residents, wrote to the San Francisco Planning Commission in June 2020 that the new Whole Foods — described as “the Project” — does not qualify for “Class 32 categorical exempt from environmental review under CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act].”

In the letter, Wolfe stated that the project will impact freight loading, construction traffic, and would “generate toxic air contaminants from diesel delivery vehicles that would expose nearby sensitive receptors to TACs.”

On Tuesday, November 24, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved an appeal that would require Whole Foods to undergo an environmental review, which could take several years.

A Whole Foods spokesperson told the SF Chronicle that the new location “would have provided 200 new jobs, $10 million in construction work and convenient access to high-quality food for neighbors.”

Whole Foods could not be reached by San Francisco News for further comment.

San Francisco News tried reaching Mayor London Breed for a comment.  In a press release on Tuesday, November 24, the mayor held a turkey giveaway that gave more than 5,000 turkeys to residents.  Among the numerous collaborations, Whole Foods “supported the giveaway with in-kind donation of 200 turkeys.”

This also comes amid the news that IKEA will open in San Francisco in fall 2021.  At the time of the announcement, Mayor Breed said on September 8 on Twitter:

“Two years ago, we met with IKEA and pitched them on filing this space.  It’s been a long road, but it’s exciting that this long vacant location in Mid-Markets will be coming to life.”