Chobani’s Founder Is Getting Death Threats For Hiring Refugees

Life & Culture Writer
11.01.16 2 Comments


Earlier this year, founder and CEO of Chobani yogurt, Hamdi Ulukaya was a hot topic when he gave the company’s 2,000 full-time employees an ownership in the company, a move that could net some them millions. Now, his name is back in the mouths of media as he and the company come under fire for employing what some people deem too many immigrants. In a somewhat conflicted message, there is a vocal group asserting the yogurt can stay Greek — it can even be flavored with Thai sauce — but the people making it better be natural born citizens of the United States.

According to the New York Times, Ulukaya is a passionate refugee advocate, urging corporations to assist them at both round-table meetings with the president and prominent business leaders and at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He even started a foundation that helps migrants. But, providing over 300 refugees with employment in his factories appears to have been the final straw for extreme right groups.

Now, Ulukaya and his company are being deluged with racist attacks on social media and have been made the subject of false stories filled with conspiracy theories on websites like Breitbart. Even the mayor of Twin Falls, Idaho (home to a Chobani factory) has received death threats for supposedly participating in the yogurt company’s “Islamification of the United States” (even though this is patently untrue).

Ulukaya isn’t the only company leader making a commitment to forcibly displaced workers. His Tent Foundation is partnered with IBM, Johnson & Johnson, LinkedIn, Toms, and Master Card. He is, however, the only one facing backlash. The answer as to why he’s being singled out seems obvious to Cecillia Wang, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union: “It’s because he’s an immigrant himself.”

Though people have taken to the internet to call for a boycott, Ulukaya remains focused on creating jobs, compensating workers, and teaching companies to effectively assimilate refugees into their workforce. The Chobani founder says, “The minute a refugee has a job, that’s the minute they stop being a refugee.”

(Via New York Times)

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