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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

April 2, 2020

UFCW Statement: VICE News Exposes Shocking Depths of Amazon’s & Jeff Bezos’ Disregard for Workers & the American People During Coronavirus Outbreak   

America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Demands Amazon Fire Senior Leadership Responsible for Shameful Conduct

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, which represents 1.3 million workers in food and retail, responded to a shocking Vice News story that documents both the ruthless smear campaign against Christian Smalls, the Amazon warehouse worker who organized this week’s safety strike, as well as the high level discussions between Amazon executives on how to best utilize surgical masks for public relations value.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:

“In the middle of a global pandemic with thousands of Americans sick and dying, today we learned that Amazon’s senior leaders – including CEO Jeff Bezos, Amazon SVP of Global Affairs Jay Carney, and Amazon General Counsel David Zapolsky – were more focused on attacking one of their own workers than actually keeping their employees safe.

“Even worse, these same senior Amazon leaders weighed ‘different and bold’ ways to gain a public relations ‘win’ from their stockpile of surgical masks – masks that are desperately needed by frontline workers and first responders who are putting themselves in harm’s way every day during this unprecedented public health crisis.

“Every American should be outraged by this conduct. Not only should Amazon’s senior leadership be  investigated by law enforcement and federal regulators for these shameful actions, every Amazon executive responsible for this stunning conduct, beginning with Mr. Zapolsky, should be immediately fired.”

Background:

UFCW has been a leading national voice calling for greater accountability of Amazon and its worker mistreatment. In December 2018, the retail branch of UFCW launched acampaign to unionize Amazon warehouse workers at the same Staten Island fulfillment center where this week’s strike took place.

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 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’s work during COVID-19 at ufcw.org/coronavirus

 

March 1, 2019

UFCW president responds to Amazon’s newly announced grocery chain: “Our leaders need to stop fawning over Jeff Bezos”

A report today from the Wall Street Journal claims Amazon plans to open a new grocery US grocery chain that would be separate from Whole Foods, which was purchased by Amazon in 2017 for roughly $13.5 billion. According to the WSJ article:

Amazon.com is planning to open dozens of grocery stores in several major U.S. cities, according to people familiar with the matter, as the retail giant looks to broaden its reach in the food business. First grocery store in Los Angeles as early as the end of 2019. Amazon has already signed leases for at least 2 other grocery locations with openings planned for early next year, this person said.

The new stores would be distinct from the company’s upscale Whole Foods Market brand, though it is unclear whether the new grocery chain would carry the Amazon name.

Amazon is also exploring an acquisition strategy to widen the new supermarket brand by purchasing regional grocery chains with about a dozen stores under operation, one person said.

Amazon is now in talks to open grocery stores in shopping centers in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, the people familiar with the matter said.

While Amazon has already signed leases, that doesn’t guarantee it will open the grocery stores. Retailers sign contracts and then pull out or delay store openings if certain conditions aren’t met.

The new stores aren’t intended to compete directly with Whole Foods and will offer products at a lower price point, these people said. The new chain would offer a different variety of products than what is on the shelves at the more upscale Whole Foods stores.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone responded with the following statement warning of the dire impacts Amazon’s move to take over the grocery industry could have for everyday Americans:

“Make no mistake, Amazon’s new and ruthless supermarket strategy is its latest salvo bent on destroying good American jobs to enrich one billionaire – Jeff Bezos.

Amazon isn’t about providing better food or customer service, and it certainly is not about fair competition. Launching this grocery chain is an aggressive expansion of Amazon’s market power as it seeks to fundamentally change our country’s food retail and service economy while eliminating as many retail workers as possible.

It is time that Republicans and Democrats realize that Amazon’s predatory business model is wrong for this nation and will needlessly destroy millions of jobs in every state in this country. Our leaders need to stop fawning over Jeff Bezos’ wealth and wake up to the serious threat Amazon’s business model poses to consumers, the economy, and our society.”

The UFCW has been calling for more scrutiny to be given to Amazon’s impact on the grocery industry since their announcement of the Amazon Go stores in 2016. 

February 8, 2019

UFCW Statement on Amazon Reconsidering NYC Location

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) President Marc Perrone released the following statement in response to a new report that Amazon is reconsidering its plan to establish a new campus in New York City.

“It is outrageous that Amazon is now essentially threatening New York City taxpayers to pay for its new headquarters or else it will leave town. Multibillion-dollar corporations and billionaires like Jeff Bezos should not be threatening New Yorkers or expect any American taxpayers to foot the bill for opening a new headquarters – whether it’s in New York City, Arlington, Virginia, or anywhere else. Why should we subsidize the creation of 25,000 Amazon jobs when Amazon’s entire business model seeks to eliminate millions of retail jobs? The last thing we, as taxpayers, should ever be asked to pay for is the destruction of our own jobs.”

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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.