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April 16, 2020

UFCW: Amazon and Whole Foods Must Take Immediate Action to Protect Workers From Coronavirus

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Raises Alarm After Report of Six New Whole Foods Worker Infections 

Latest Whole Foods Infections Follow Amazon Firing Workers Speaking Out About Safety Hazards 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union which represents 1.3 million workers, condemned Amazon for firing workers speaking out about dangerous working conditions as coronavirus worker infections continue to increase with six more Whole Foods worker infections just reported. Coronavirus has infected workers in at least 74 Amazon warehouses and delivery facilities.  

UFCW International President Marc Perrone issued the following statement: 

“This is now a matter of life and death. Amazon and Whole Foods must take immediate action to keep their workers safe from the rapidly growing coronavirus outbreak. With six more Whole Foods worker infections reported just reported, and countless Amazon workers exposed across the country, it is stunning that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is more focused on silencing brave whistleblowers than actually taking the action needed to protect these grocery and warehouse workers.  

“Our nation’s elected leaders are being rightfully held responsible, so why is Jeff Bezos not being held responsible for firing workers who spoke about Amazon’s safety failures? Bezos needs to tell Americans why he is more focused on firing essential workers than doing what is necessary to keep every Whole Foods and Amazon worker safe.  

“Now, more than ever, corporations like Amazon must be held responsible for failing to keep its frontline workers from being exposed to the coronavirus outbreak.” 

Background: 

In the last three weeks, Amazon has fired or dismissed nearly half a dozen workers raising concerns about coronavirus safety issues. In Washington, D.C., six more Whole Foods worker infections were just reported. Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that across industry employers, at least 41 grocery workers have died from coronavirus. 

UFCW has been a leading voice calling for greater accountability of Amazon and its worker mistreatment. Earlier this month, UFCW condemned Amazon for firing the worker who led the recent strike at its Staten Island facility. In December 2018, the retail branch of UFCW launched a campaign to unionize Amazon warehouse workers at the same Staten Island fulfillment center.

In February 2020, UFCW called Amazon’s new cashierless grocery store “a clear and present danger to millions of good jobs.” In July 2019, UFCW announced its opposition to a $700 million effort by Amazon to push its own workers out of jobs as it relentlessly automates its warehouse operations. And in May 2019, UFCW called out Amazon for using robots to replace thousands of its workers across the country.

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The UFCW is the largest private sector union in the United States, representing 1.3 million professionals and their families in grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries.

Our members help put food on our nation’s tables and serve customers in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at www.ufcw.org