A BuzzFeed report into allegations of poor working conditions at Blue Apron’s Richmond facility raises concerns but also paints an unfairly negative portrait of the local community.
The national media company quoted a number of former workers at the Richmond fulfillment center who described an overly demanding work environment at the Blue Apron facility at 3151 Regatta Blvd.
More concerning, it appears, were reports of workplace safety violations and the number of times the Richmond Police Department were called to the facility at 3151 Regatta Blvd.
In 38 months after opening in August 2013, Richmond police responded to the facility twice on weapons calls, three times for bomb threats and seven times for assaults, according to the BuzzFeed investigation. At least four arrests for violence have been made at the facility, which “grew from fewer than 50 employees in 2014 to over 1,000 today, making Blue Apron one of the largest employers in the city,” the article states.
While issues of safety at the facility are indeed important to raise, BuzzFeed makes an unfortunate observation about the company’s ability to handle workers in an “historically crime-dogged city like Richmond.” Written by a San Francisco-based reporter, the article appears to vastly undersell Richmond’s workforce:
The lengthy article, of course, fails to acknowledge the role of Richmond’s workforce in allowing multiple large-scale food companies to thrive in the city, including Blue Apron. The growing successes of such companies have attracted valuable career training opportunities that are preparing local residents to fill these jobs.
The BuzzFeed report also cites Richmond police as saying Blue Apron wanted to grow so quickly that it began hiring “ex-cons, parolees, and gang members.” In a statement to BuzzFeed, Blue Apron said it does not “purposefully” hire people with criminal records.
The company statement acknowledged challenges in the early days of its Richmond operation.
“Blue Apron has learned from the operational challenges during its early days in Richmond, is proud of the culture, processes, and workplace that exist there today, as well as throughout the country, and is always working to improve its workplace environment for all of its employees,” the statement read, according to BuzzFeed.
In recent months, RPD said the police call rate to Blue Apron’s Richmond facility has “decreased and security has improved,” although BuzzFeed noted police logs do show more than a dozen calls since May.
Read the full BuzzFeed report here.