Submitted on Fri, 07/30/2004 - 11:06am
By Stephanie Dunlap - Cincinatti City Beat, July 30, 2004
Tom Kappas believes he was fired from Wild Oats in order to suppress his and others' efforts to unionize the Norwood store.
Wild Oats' Norwood store might be more concerned with the fair treatment of coffee farmers a continent away than with fair treatment of its own workers. Though the sign in front of the natural foods store in Rookwood Commons trumpets the fair trade coffee inside, its store director fired Tom Kappas, who'd been openly leading an employee union drive, for what many consider a trumped-up charge: stealing 19 cents worth of fruit.
Before Kappas, a two-year veteran of the produce department, ended his Friday night shift July 9, he rang up a bag of tortilla chips, a bottle of Samuel Smith Organic Lager and $.19 in produce. According to Kappas' written statement -- which he provided to CityBeat -- the manager on duty for the night stopped him before he left and asked to search his bags and see receipts. Kappas produced the fruit and the paperwork.
The manager said Kappas shouldn't have discounted the fruit, but Kappas told him that the produce manager allowed his employees to buy old or damaged produce at 10 cents per pound. Kappas then threw the produce in the trash and left.