No Evil Foods, a vegan company that sells fake meat, gave some employees a temporary raise following backlash to its COVID-19 response
- No Evil Foods, based in Asheville, North Carolina, is giving some staff a two-month raise of $2.25 an hour, after employees told Business Insider they were unhappy with its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
- The company had earlier tied a boost in pay to perfect attendance, a policy that spurred employees to begin circulating a petition.
- In March, the company lost over 10% of its workforce after giving employees a 24-hour ultimatum: stay, and get a temporary raise in the fall for perfect attendance; quit and maybe come back in the future; or leave and agree not to work in the industry for a year, in exchange for three weeks of severance.
- A spokesperson for the company would not say whether the raise extends to warehouse employees or new hires.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
No Evil Foods, a
The decision comes a week after Business Insider reported on the turmoil within the company over its response to
In March, the North Carolina-based maker of the "Comrade Cluck" faced a backlash, internally and online, after it gave employees 24 hours to respond to an ultimatum.
They could stay — and get a short-term raise down the line for perfect attendance, with exceptions for absences accompanied by a doctor's note — or quit. Employees who agreed to not talk to the press or work in the food industry for the next year were offered three weeks' severance.
About 13% of the company's workforce chose the latter option. Several employees who stayed with the company told Business Insider that the ultimatum left a bad taste in their mouth, contradicting No Evil Food's image as a socially conscious employer.
At the time, co-founder Sadra Schadel said the offer she gave employees was the best that the company could do.
"We wish we could do even more, but if we did, our family-operated company would end," she told Business Insider. "There would be no jobs to return to for anyone."
Since then, the company — backed by the same venture capitalists as Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods — has decided to offer more to its employees.
In a statement published April 8, No Evil Foods said "all production employees" would get a raise, effective immediately, of "$2.25 an hour for the next 60 days," and "with no conditions."
For comparison, Amazon has boosted pay by $2 an hour.
"In addition to a pay increase," the statement reads, "we have also prioritized paid time off, sick leave and expanded family leave, and flexibility for those who are dealing with childcare challenges."
The company would not say how many employees are receiving the bump in pay.
Charlie Stone, the founder of the Chicago-based public relations agency SRW, which represents No Evil Foods, told Business Insider that the "statement speaks for itself." He declined to say whether it applies to warehouse employees — those who load trucks with the company's product — and to new hires.
The statement from the company says only that average pay for production staff is around $17 an hour, at least until June. The figure is comparable to the
Employees who spoke to Business Insider said the raise, while welcome, has them wondering what else they can achieve.
"You're saying, 'This is the most we can do,' and then it's, 'Oh, well, actually, this is the most we can do,'" one employee said. "It's like, what's next?"
In interviews, three employees said a petition had been circulated among staff demanding a raise in pay for all, perfect attendance or not. They feared, one employee said, that linking a bonus to attendance, at a time when it's hard to see a doctor, "would potentially encourage workers to put themselves or others in danger."
The petition, "politely stated that we shouldn't be required to have perfect attendance for 90 days when the hazard is happening right now," another employee explained.
The company announced the shift in policy before the petition was submitted. It said in a statement that it is "constantly evaluating our own policies as things shift and evolve."
"We think it's really important in this moment for everyone to recognize the critical work that food production workers like our team are doing during this global crisis," the company said, "and we wanted to thank them for their amazing effort and commitment."
A number of employees felt that critical press coverage also played a role.
"Having a big name — Business Insider — talking about this, I think, also put a great deal of pressure on them," one worker said.
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