As COVID Risks Continue, Union for Supermarket Workers on Frontlines Nationwide Condemns Amazon Move to Bring Job-Killing Playbook to Grocery Industry
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million essential workers in grocery, meatpacking, and other frontline industries, condemned the move by Amazon to continue its aggressive expansion of the company’s new Amazon Fresh grocery chain and Amazon Go cashierless stores. Amazon’s new push into the Mid-Atlantic region announced today will result in the company controlling over 500 grocery stores nationwide, including Amazon-owned Whole Foods stores. A recent report confirmed that Amazon is already testing cashierless technology at its Amazon Fresh grocery stores, further threatening the jobs of America’s 16 million retail workers.
UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement:
“Amazon is bringing its ruthless anti-worker playbook to the grocery industry with the expansion of these stores, and our country’s essential workers and the families they serve will be the ones who pay the price. This pandemic has made clear that our country’s grocery workers are essential as we have looked to our neighborhood supermarkets to protect access to the food we need during this crisis.
“Amazon failed to prevent nearly 20,000 COVID infections among workers at its warehouses and Whole Foods grocery stores. With Amazon continuing to push its job-killing cashierless technology at these stores, it’s clear that these markets will also represent a threat to the local economies across the country.
“At a time when millions of Americans are already struggling, when most Americans are one paycheck away from disaster, what does it say that Amazon wants to create stores that serve food and groceries and eliminate the jobs real people need? Now, more than ever, it is time for our nation’s leaders – Democrats and Republicans – to wake up and act before Amazon and Jeff Bezos do permanent damage to America’s economy and the future of work.”
UFCW has been a leading national voice calling to hold Amazon accountable for unsafe working conditions and retaliatory firings of whistleblowers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and UFCW affiliate RWDSU is currently leading the campaign to unionize Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama.
UFCW highlighted safety failures that allowed a COVID outbreak at a Whole Foods store in Detroit and over 19,000 COVID Amazon worker infections across the company’s warehouses and retail stores, and last year demanded Amazon end its COVID gag rule on employees speaking out about pandemic workplace hazards.
In August 2020, Amazon launched its own grocery chain and now has 12 Amazon Fresh grocery stores across California and the Chicago suburbs, and the company is set to continue its rapid expansion with plans for a total of at least 40 Amazon Fresh stores nationwide in the coming months. Amazon’s cashierless technology is in use at its more than 25 Amazon Go stores across New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Seattle, and the company is already testing cashierless technology in its Amazon Fresh grocery stores.
Amazon expanding its cashierless technology to its Amazon Fresh grocery stores, as well as licensing the technology other retailers, would likely:
- Discriminate against over 24 million U.S. households which are underbanked
- Threaten the jobs of America’s 16 million retail workers
- Grow the cashierless retail tech market to $50 billion and force widespread adoption by other stores
- Give Amazon unfair access to its competitors’ customer data, raising privacy concerns
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.