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UFCW: Amazon, Instacart, and Whole Foods Must Do More to Protect Workers on Front Lines of Coronavirus Outbreak

March 30, 2020 Updated: August 24, 2020

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Calls on Amazon, Instacart and Whole Foods to Immediately Increase Pay, Paid Leave, Safety Gear for Workers

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery, retail, and other industries, announced its strong support forAmazon warehouse workers in Staten Island as well as Instacart workers and Whole Foods workers nationwide who are walking off the job this week to protest the failure of these companies to strengthen emergency pay and protections for essential workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Amazon, Instacart, and Whole Foods workers are sending a powerful message that it’s time to stop putting corporate profits ahead of the health and safety of the men and women who are critical to our food supply, and are on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak.  It is shameful that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Instacart CEO Apoorva Mehta, and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey are ignoring not only the concerns of workers, but the potential threat to public safety.

“For the sake of public health and worker safety, every non-union grocery worker must speak out. If Amazon, Instacart, and Whole Foods are unwilling to do what is right to protect their workers and our communities, the UFCW is ready to listen and do all we can to help protect these brave workers from irresponsible employers who are ignoring the serious threat posed by the rapidly growing coronavirus outbreak.”

Background:

 In February 2020, Instacart workers in the Chicago area joined UFCW Local 1546, making history as the first workers with the company to join a union. As a result of the majority of Instacart’s 175,000 workers are misclassified as independent contractors, they are not eligible to join a union and today’s strike is a way for them to demand the emergency pay increase, paid leave, and protective gear that they have earned and deserve.

 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.  

On March 13, 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. 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 dev.ufcw.org.