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UFCW: Amazon Whole Foods Cashierless Expansion Threatens Good-Paying Jobs of Essential Grocery Workers

September 8, 2021

Whole Foods Storefront

As COVID Delta Surge Continues, Union for Supermarket Workers on Frontlines Nationwide Condemns Amazon Move to Bring Job-Killing Playbook to Whole Foods

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 Amazon’s move to bring its cashierless technology to Whole Foods stores next year, increasing the threat to essential worker jobs at the grocery chain that currently employs nearly 100,000 workers. At stores across the country, Whole Foods workers continue to protect access to food for Americans as the COVID-19 Delta surge worsens. Customers who do not want to use Amazon’s cashierless technology will only be able to ring up items using self-checkout or at a customer service booth.

This comes just months after the company announced the expansion of its Amazon Fresh grocery chain and Amazon Go cashierless stores, increasingly threatening the jobs of America’s 16 million retail workers.

UFCW International President Marc Perrone released the following statement

“As UFCW predicted, Amazon is bringing its ruthless anti-worker playbook, pushing automation at all costs, to its Whole Foods grocery stores with the expansion of its cashierless technology. With this growing job threat, those who will pay the price for Amazon’s greed are America’s essential workers and their families.

“Our nation’s elected leaders ignored the fact that nearly 20,000 COVID infections occurred among Amazon workers at its warehouses and Whole Foods grocery stores in the first year of the pandemic. Now, where is the outcry to the fact that Amazon is pushing its job-killing cashierless technology at Whole Foods stores? 

“Make no mistake, Amazon has declared war on essential workers, and it is time for this company to be held accountable for its past, current, and future actions. Now, more than ever, it is time for our nation’s leaders – Democrats and Republicans – to wake up and act before Amazon does permanent damage to America’s economy and the future of work.”

BACKGROUND:

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 led 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. Additionally, the company reported nearly 20,000 COVID Amazon worker infections across the company’s warehouses and retail stores, and last year UFCW 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 YorkSan FranciscoChicago and Seattle, and the company is already testing cashierless technology in its Amazon Fresh grocery stores.

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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