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UFCW: Amazon and Whole Foods Shamelessly Exploit Workers Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

March 13, 2020 Updated: August 24, 2020

America’s Largest Grocery Union Condemns Move by Amazon-Owned Company to Deny Paid Leave, Ask “Healthy” Workers to Donate Paid Time Off

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), the largest grocery union in the country, condemned Whole Foods for refusing to provide paid leave to their employees until after testing positive for coronavirus. Instead, the Amazon-owned company suggested its employees should “donate” their paid time to co-workers facing medical emergencies. 

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Whole Foods CEO John Mackey should be ashamed of themselves for refusing to offer paid leave to employees until after they test positive for coronavirus. I’m not sure if these two CEOs know this, but testing is incredibly scarce in this country at the moment. Equally outrageous is the suggestion that Whole Foods workers donate their paid leave to workers who may become ill with the coronavirus. 

“With our economy spiraling and millions of workers struggling, the last thing Whole Foods workers need is to be told by a CEO worth millions that they have to choose between their health and their paycheck.

“In the face of a growing national and global coronavirus pandemic, it is time for Amazon and Whole Foods to start caring more about its workers and our communities than its profits.”   

Background: 

As reported by VICE News, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey sent an email to the company’s grocery store employees this week suggesting that employees “donate” their paid time off (PTO) to coworkers facing medical emergencies during the coronavirus outbreak. 

Whole Foods will only offer paid time off to employees after they test positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. With coronavirus testing incredibly scarce, this leaves Whole Foods employees – and all Amazon employees covered by the policy – at great risk before they are able to get tested. 

UFCW has been a vocal critic of Amazon’s aggressive move to devalue and degrade grocery jobs at Whole Foods. In September 2019, slammed the company for cutting medical benefits for hundreds of part-time workers. In March 2019, UFCW condemned actions by Whole Foods to reduce employee hours just months after Amazon announced a wage increase that was supposed to be an investment in Whole Foods workers.

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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 www.ufcw.org.