Noe Valley Voice June 2007

Letters to the Editor

We'd Rather Plant Trees Than Send Mailings


This letter is in response to Mary McFadden's letter to the editor in the May 2007 issue, which claimed there was a lack of notification from the Noe Valley Association (NVA) on long-term plans for 24th Street.

The three community meetings we held in November, December, and March were widely publicized and well attended by a broad cross-section of Noe Valley residents, employees, merchants, and property owners. In addition to the three meetings being announced at the property owners' meeting last Nov. 2, the NVA also publicized them in:

* flyers posted in merchants windows along 24th Street;

* flyers posted on the Noe Valley Association bulletin board in the city parking lot on 24th Street next to Le Zinc café;

* flyers handed out at the Noe Valley Farmers' Market on Saturday mornings;

* announcements in the November and December/January issues of the Noe Valley Voice; and

* articles written about the meetings in the Noe Valley Voice in the October, November, December/January, February, March, and April issues.

About 120 people attended one or more of these three meetings. We regret that the notices escaped Mary McFadden's attention. We'd be happy to consider suggestions for better ways to publicize the meetings that are feasible given our status as a small non-profit with a limited budget. A mass mailing is simply not affordable. The cost of a single mailing to the Noe Valley community could plant an additional 22 trees. We'd rather plant trees than send mailings. We'd also rather rely on the proven methods of posted flyers and the articles or announcements in the Noe Valley Voice.

All good wishes,

Debra Niemann, Executive Director

Noe Valley Association

A Community Benefit District

P.S. We will have a final report posted to the NVA bulletin board after June 15. A four-color copy of the report will be available for review at the Noe Valley Bakery, on 24th near Castro Street. Please don't remove the report from the bakery. Each copy of the report and accompanying maps costs $22.72 to reproduce.

Pharmacy Leaves 22nd Street

Dear Noe Valley Voice and Neighbors:

My name is Paul Goldstein, and I am the owner of the pharmacy and property (Rx Unlimited Pharmacy) located at the corner of 22nd and Castro streets. As many of you may have noticed, I have decided to sell my property and to relocate the pharmacy.

The reason for this change is due in part to my inability to effectively manage the pharmacy, causing sustained losses, and also due in part to me now living out of state with a new wife and newborn child. It should also be noted that we are not "out of business," and that I am transferring our operations to our second pharmacy location in Los Angeles.

I wanted to thank all of the people in our community for their support over the last nine years. I will miss everyone. All of you have been very kind to me, and it is greatly appreciated. The new owners of the property are very nice people, and I hope the community extends a warm welcome to them.

Paul Goldstein

Owner, Rx Unlimited

Noe Valleyans Can Make Sure Nutraceutical Takes Its Medicine


Roughly two years ago, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Region 20, heard a case against Nutraceutical International Corp.--the Utah-based conglomerate holding siege to the shuttered Real Food Company store on 24th Street-- alleging multiple violations of the National Labor Relations Act. According to the NLRB's charges, Nutraceutical terminated the individual employment of workers during the summer of 2003 because those workers were engaged in federally protected union activity, and resorted to an illegal store closure just prior to Labor Day, discharging nearly 30 rank-and-file employees in the process, to thwart a union organizing drive.

In November 2005, NLRB Judge James Kennedy issued a decision finding Nutraceutical guilty of six separate violations of the National Labor Relations Act, including but not limited to the principal charges outlined above. As Liz Highleyman reported last month in the Voice ("A Ray of Light at the End of Real Food Tunnel," May 2007), Nutraceutical subsequently appealed Kennedy's decision to the NLRB in Washington, D.C.

Through its appeal to Washington, Nutraceutical has temporarily blocked a court order demanding back pay and reinstatement for all illegally terminated 24th Street workers. The court order also requires Nutraceutical to post notices in conspicuous locations at each of its retail outlets nationwide affirming the right of its employees to organize as guaranteed under the National Labor Relations Act. The notice, according to Judge Kennedy's order, would contain explicit language promising no further transgressions of the law such as those that took place at the 24th Street store.

As a former Nutraceutical employee who was illegally fired on account of the 24th Street closure and who subsequently provided evidence and testimony during the NLRB proceedings, I note with irony recent rumors that Nutraceutical plans to raze the former Real Food Company structure, construct a new building, and then reopen.

Those of us who attended or testified at the NLRB hearing will remember Nutraceutical's unconvincing and ultimately unsuccessful defense that the 24th Street store had been closed for a planned remodel with the intent of implementing a "concept store" at the site. We will also remember the marked lack of evidence supporting Nutraceutical's claims--i.e., architectural plans, permit applications, and/or everyday e-mail correspondence related to a remodel--and the cynical testimony of Nutraceutical's witnesses.

If we were to believe those witnesses, the lack of evidence on paper substantiating a planned remodel was due to concerns that, had the remodel become a matter of public knowledge in advance of the closure, customers might have been "soured," employees might have made off with inventory or plagued the corporation with fraudulent workers' compensation claims, and competitors might have used advance notice of the closure as an occasion to lure shoppers away.

Nearly four years down the road, Nutraceutical's defense at the NLRB hearing remains as paradoxical and unconvincing as ever. If we accept its argument that it was concerned about not alienating customers, about guarding itself against financial losses, and about the risk of inviting competitors to lure away clientele (whom one company spokesman characterized as a "captive audience," citing the fact that a markedly high percentage of Noe Valley residents didn't own cars), then how do we explain Nutraceutical's behavior since the closure in 2003?

From the get-go, Noe Valley residents have provided Nutraceutical with options for mending its relationship with the community. Via multiple petitions as well as personal appeals, residents have made it clear to Nutraceutical that the path to restoring relations includes rectifying past legal transgressions with respect to the treatment of workers and guaranteeing the right of employees to organize--a right which is granted by federal law, no matter how much money Nutraceutical is willing to fork over to pay for attorneys and an appeal to the Bush-appointed, Republican-led NLRB in Washington, and no matter how much money Nutraceutical is willing to shell out toward the cost of owning a vacant and deteriorating building.

If Nutraceutical honestly intends to rebuild and reopen on 24th Street (to date, the corporation has recently sought only an over-the-counter permit for light demolition), and, moreover, if it expects to reopen with any success, then it would do best to drop its appeal on the November 2005 NLRB decision, abide by the NLRB remedy for its legal violations, and take substantive measures to make amends to the Noe Valley residents and local merchants who, along with its former 24th Street employees, have been adversely impacted by its conduct.

If there is any light at the end of the tunnel, then it is this: The ongoing standoff against Nutraceutical presents Noe Valleyans with the rare opportunity to hold a law-breaking multinational corporation accountable and to make it adhere to local standards and expectations of ethical merchant conduct.

Nobody will argue that the loss of an anchoring retail space located smack in the middle of Noe Valley's commercial distract hasn't caused hardships or inconveniences for individual residents, merchants, and workers. Yet, on the whole, we have coped with Nutraceutical's absence for close to four years. And without the dollars of its "captive audience," Nutraceutical has no choice but to listen to us if it expects to profitably reopen.

Quoting a familiar picket slogan, "United we stand, divided we fall; an injury to one is an injury to all."

Kim Rohrbach

Former Nutraceutical employee

In Solidarity,

Leslie Crawford, Peter Gabel,
Pat Monk, Lisa Brinker, Vanessa Barrington, and Rick Hildreth

Noe Valley neighbors

A Shame to Lose Rite Aid


I was very sorry to hear about the closing of the Rite Aid on 24th Street [February 2007 Voice]. It looks as though another Noe Valley landlord's greed is depleting the neighborhood of another valuable service.

Rite Aid has some of the most courteous and helpful staff in the area and is far superior to the other choice of drugstores in Noe Valley. Also, it is much easier for seniors to navigate. It really is a shame. I wish the best to all the staff and thank them for their great service.

Unfortunately, greed is a huge part of the new "Noe Valley." Believe me, I know. I'm a native.

Erin Boylan

Jersey Street

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