Oct 3, 2016
7 comments

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:

buzzfeed

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.

Comments

  1. I worked at blue apron for almost a year and besides the polatics of the job as far as moving up in the company blue apron has done a lot in the past year to help make the safty of the company better. Also somebody needs to hire ex cons and gang bangers do you want them back on the street? Or back in prison? I felt safe after they made changes to the parking lot blue apron is a great company to work for its just harder to move up then they say.

    Krystle law | Oct 3rd, 2016
  2. I myself work at blue apron at this moment I can argee with the last. Comment the move up to a better position is very hard and they have made lots of good and bad changes but that is a learning and growing company. Then team I work for the lead is a rude and disrespectful person she did not say thank you she doesn’t appreciate anybody all she worries about is her numbers and how much the boxes are going out.

    Kelz | Oct 3rd, 2016
  3. ive worked at blue apron for almost 2years also this is my first job i never thoight it would at blue apron

    naay marie | Oct 3rd, 2016
  4. “historically crime-dogged city like Richmond ” – great quote from the author who lives in SF and I bet who has never stepped foot in our city

    Proud Richmond Resident | Oct 3rd, 2016
  5. Not everyone can move up, and it should take consistent and rather exceptional performance to obtain raises and promotions. That is what it means to truly earn it and be the manager, coordinator and/or leader role you are promoted to. Furthermore, junior staff need to be empowered and reminded of their importance within the team structure. And lastly, security should never be an issue. Whether a Blue Apron grew too fast or not, people still struggle with the fact that they are not seeing progress in terms of safety in Richmond. Whether it be in the community or now in the workplace.

    Mr. Edwards | Oct 3rd, 2016
  6. Richmond was safer under the prior police chief – but it takes all of us to make it safer. Blue Apron should invest in ways to get their people to work easily…look how many businesses have come here regardless of the crazy RPA pushing their agenda. Blue Apron has a growth and management problem not a Richmond problem. If they worked with the community other business owners and the city could help. We don’t want them to leave because they pay taxes but their is no infrastructure and shame on the owners for the OSHA violations.

    Proud Richmond Resident | Oct 4th, 2016
  7. It’s such a shame to see these difficulties plaguing a growing hybrid tech company. The sad reality is that a manufacturing type company simply can’t scale at levels comparable to software. This new hybrid model is great to see tech companies tackling everyday problems, but the investment in human capital needs to be more significant.

    Cassi | Oct 4th, 2016

About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.