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'There Is Such Optimism': Activists, Workers Welcome Deal Ending Boycott of Amy's Kitchen Products

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In a photo from Dec. 1, 2004, employees at Amy's Kitchen in Santa Rosa work on the processing and assembly line.  (San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

Activists and Amy’s Kitchen workers welcomed the end of a boycott of the Petaluma-based organic food company over labor violations and unsafe working conditions and expressed optimism about the path ahead.

Boycott leaders from the food justice nonprofit Food Empowerment Project announced the end of the two-year boycott on Wednesday after Amy’s Kitchen agreed to better working conditions within its facilities, including improved worker safety and better wages and health insurance.

FEP founder Lauren Ornelas said Amy’s Kitchen reached out eight months ago to discuss ending the boycott. In those meetings, Amy’s Kitchen also agreed to a 3% merit-based raise for its employees, bilingual service representatives to aid with health care benefits, and a pledge not to work with labor consultants in the future — after allegations it was attempting to stop employees from unionizing.


“With the changes that the workers have seen, there is such optimism,” Ornelas said. “These are workers who love their job. They just want to be treated with respect and paid a living wage.”

The FEP started the boycott after multiple reports of workplace accidents dating back to 2014. Amy’s Kitchen presents itself as a socially responsible company, according to its website, which states that its principles are guided by “goodness.” However, the FEP saw Amy’s Kitchen’s actions as contradicting its public messaging.

Months after the boycott began, the company was hit with a $25,000 fine from California regulators in August 2022 for more than a dozen safety violations at its Santa Rosa facility. The company also closed its San José plant, eliminating over 300 jobs. Plant employees from both locations were also in contact with union organizers the year before the violation fines and plant closure. The FEP alleges the labor consultant firm that Amy’s Kitchen hired has a reputation for “union busting.”

“This is a company that promotes sustainability and yet the workers aren’t living sustainably themselves,” Ornelas said. “We had lots of individuals, lots of people, who bought Amy’s, supporting the boycott.”

In a statement published on the FEP website on Wednesday, Amy’s Kitchen President Paul Schiefer said the meetings with the FEP showcased how the company can meet the needs of and improve communications with its food-line workers.

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“We look forward to continuing this positive dialogue and making meaningful improvements for our workforce,” Schiefer said in the statement.

Plant workers, such as Cecilia Luna Ojeda, welcome the changes promised by the company. She’s worked in the plant for nearly 20 years and said the income she receives has helped her raise her four children, including her oldest, who is leaving for college in the fall.

Ojeda was also present at the meetings between company executives and the nonprofit. She said it was emotionally difficult when she recounted her experiences at the plant to the executives during the meetings. However, she believes it was necessary to end the boycott and receive better working conditions for the plants’ employees. Now that the boycott is over, Ojeda sees safety improvements implemented across the Santa Rosa facility and hopes work will ramp up so the company can hire more employees and offer raises.

“We have to defend our rights when we see injustices,” Ojeda said. “And there is always somebody who has to be at the forefront.”

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