America’s Largest Food & Retail Union Calls for Action to Protect Whole Foods Workers and Hold Amazon Accountable as COVID-19 Pandemic Continues
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million workers in grocery and other frontline industries, condemned Amazon after a new report highlighted ways the company is endangering its workers in Whole Foods stores that have been overwhelmed by the surge in online orders during the COVID-19 pandemic.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following joint statement:
“The pandemic that is raging across America, and has already cost countless lives, is bringing out the worst in companies like Amazon that are willfully choosing to ignore their responsibility to keep workers and their communities safe.
“For the sake of their bottom line, Jeff Bezos is turning Whole Foods stores into a chaotic mess where employees are now being pitted against each other in the rush to churn out as many Prime Now orders as possible without any regard to the health risks they face.
“Amazon’s belief that workers are machines, and the company’s ruthless obsession with speed, is forcing these men and women to run around stores and completely ignore the safeguards that are essential to protecting them and preventing another COVID-19 outbreak.
“It is time for our elected leaders to realize that large companies, like Amazon, are needlessly putting the health and safety of workers and customers at risk in this pandemic. The time has come to stop ignoring these dangerous actions and to hold Amazon and Jeff Bezos accountable for these business practices that needlessly threaten to spark the spread of even more COVID-19 infections in these stores.”
UFCW has been a leading national voice for grocery worker safety during the COVID-19 pandemic and recently launched a national campaign calling on grocery chains – like Amazon-owned Whole Foods – to reverse hazard pay cuts that have hurt workers across the country. In December 2018, the retail branch of UFCW launched a campaign to unionize Amazon warehouse workers.
UFCW confirmed today that frontline workers continue to be at risk. Among the union’s members, there have been at least 105 grocery worker deaths and at least 15,484 grocery workers infected or exposed to the virus.
UFCW has also pressured other tech companies to strengthen worker protections. In June 2020, UFCW called out Facebook for creating a tool that allows companies to censor communications among their workers about unionizing.
In March 2020, UFCW condemned Instacart for failing to immediately provide the COVID-19 hazard pay and personal protective equipment needed to support and keep their workers safe at the beginning of the pandemic. In February 2020, Instacart workers in the Chicago area joined UFCW, making history as the first Instacart workers to join a union.
UFCW International is the largest private sector union in the United States. UFCW International represents 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.