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June 12, 2020

Facebook Censorship of Worker Efforts to Unionize Threatens Push to Strengthen Protections for Essential Workers During COVID-19 Pandemic

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Calls on Facebook to Immediately Shut Down Feature Allowing Companies to Censor Employees 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), America’s largest food and retail union with 1.3 million members, condemned Facebook for pushing a tool that allows companies to censor communications among their workers about unionizing. A new report details how Facebook Workplace, an intranet-style chat and office collaboration product, would enable employers to blacklist words like unionize in communications on the platform.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Facebook’s new tool allowing companies to censor workers trying to unionize is a shocking abuse of power and a dangerous threat to the ability of all workers to exercise their right to join a union.

“Whether it’s Amazon firing workers who organize protests or Whole Foods using store surveillance to track employee efforts to unionize, it is clear that giant corporations are more emboldened than ever to shut down any effort by workers to make their voices heard.

“With millions of American workers in grocery stores, meatpacking plants, and other essential businesses continuing to be infected by COVID-19, there has never been a more important time to protect the right of these workers to speak out for the protections they need. Facebook must immediately shut down this dangerous new tool that censors employee efforts to unionize, and end all efforts to silence workers standing up for the better pay and protections they have earned.”

Background:

UFCW has been a leading national voice calling for great accountability from technology companies like Facebook in response to efforts to stop workers from unionizing and speaking out for the protections they need on the job.

In February 2020, UFCW supported the successful effort of Instacart workers at a Mariano’s store in Skokie, Illinois to unionize and join UFCW Local 1546. These Instacart workers made history as the first workers with the company to join a union.

In December 2018, the retail branch of UFCW launched a campaign to unionize Amazon warehouse workers in New York. UFCW has been a vocal critic of both Amazon and Whole Foods for the treatment of their workers.

In March 2020, UFCW called out Amazon and Whole Foods for failing to provide their workers with paid sick leave until after testing positive for COVID-19. With testing incredibly scarce, this policy has left thousands of workers across the country in limbo, putting their safety and the safety of customers at risk during the outbreak. Last year in September 2019, UFCW condemned the move by Amazon to cut healthcare coverage for part-time Whole Foods 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 healthcare, grocery stores, meatpacking, food processing, retail shops and other industries. Our members serve our communities in all 50 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. Learn more about the UFCW at ufcw.org