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Support Amazon Workers Picket Whole Foods

Sunday, October 09, 2022
11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Event Type:
Dave Welsh
Location Details:
NoeValley WholeFoods-11AM Sun.Oct 9-
3950-24th St,SF

Support Amazon and Starbucks Workers!

Tell their bosses Stop Union Busting! Recognize the Unions Now!

This action is part of a nationwide campaign to build solidarity with the workers who are fighting to unionize against vicious union busting tactics by their bosses.
Check out this new Solidarity Network and sign up to get involved.
Added to the calendar on Sat, Oct 1, 2022 11:46PM

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Amazon-owned Whole Foods fired a worker who had been tracking COVID-19 cases across the grocery chain's stores

Tyler Sonnemaker 6 hours ago

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: A view of people standing in line outside Whole Foods Market in Union Square as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 20, 2020 in New York City. The World Health Organization declared coronavirus (COVID-19) a global pandemic on March 11th. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images)
Whole Foods reportedly fired a worker who had been tracking COVID-19 cases in the company's stores. Noam Galai/Getty Images
Whole Foods fired a worker in California who had been documenting COVID-19 cases across the company's grocery store locations, Vice reported on Friday.
The worker said Whole Foods accused her of "time theft" after she took a break to recover from a panic attack, but she suspects she was actually fired for "dissent," according to Vice.
Whole Foods, and its parent company Amazon, have both refused to release data about how many COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in their facilities.
Both companies have also come under fire for their response to workers speaking out about working conditions, which has included tracking workers' organizing efforts and firing those involved in protests.
Whole Foods terminated a worker this week in Orange County, California, who had been keeping a public list of COVID-19 cases confirmed at the company's grocery stores across the country, Vicereported on Friday.

The worker, Katie Doan, told Vice that Whole Foods fired her for "time theft" after she took a 45-minute break to recover from a panic attack despite having had an arrangement with managers for years to take such breaks.

Doan's firing came just a day before the Los Angeles Times reported that she had been tallying cases of COVID-19 at Whole Foods warehouses during the pandemic via a crowdsourced list, which last showed that 340 employees have tested positive and four have died, according to Vice.

Both Whole Foods and parent company Amazon have refused to disclose how many employees have tested positive for the disease at their facilities, despite calls from workers, activists, and lawmakers for more transparency. Earlier this month, a group of state attorneys general from 12 states and Washington, DC, demanded in a letter that they release that data.

The letter also demanded that Whole Foods and Amazon provide employees with additional paid and unpaid leave benefits, improve health and safety measures, and address why leaders of worker protests have been laid off — demands that have been echoed by workers who have protested the companies' policies.

Doan told Vice she believes Whole Foods terminated her "for dissent," saying: "I knew I'd be fired because I've seen how Amazon treats its workers who are involved in organizing... I just didn't imagine it would come so swiftly, and over a panic attack that I had."

"Any suggestion that the separation of this Team Member is related to any form of retaliation is completely false," a Whole Foods spokesperson told Business Insider.

"The Team Member admitted to violating well-established policies, leaving work for long periods of time without clocking out and leaving Team Members and her department without support. We followed standard company practices when investigating the Team Member's infractions and throughout the separation process," the spokesperson said.

Amazon has fired at least five workers who have spoken out about working conditions during the pandemic, prompting multiple investigations into whether it violated labor laws and whistleblower protections. Whole Foods has also faced scrutiny for using a heat map to track and score stores it deems at risk of unionizing.

Whole Foods’ union busting is one example of the rotten way the grocery chain treats its workers’%20mapping%20of%20stores%20that%20are%20likely,for%20Whole%20Foods%20to%20get%20away%20with%20this.

By Timothy Hughes - May 4, 2020

Post Views: 4,469

Courtesy of Whole Foods via Instagram
Whole Foods, an organic grocery chain owned by Amazon and its CEO Jeff Bezos, has reportedly been creating heat maps of their stores, ranking locations on the likelihood of their workers unionizing. While creative union busting is common in the corporate world, it is always wrong. Whole Foods’ actions are inexcusable and, as usual, low-income individuals will bear the weight of their moral lapses.

The heat map uses various criteria to label stores as high risk for forming unions. The most concerning of the criteria relates to income inequality. Stores that are in low-income areas, as well as areas with high levels of unemployment, are marked for higher risk of forming unions. Low-income individuals are those who would benefit most from membership in a union, a correlation that is easily made by the company so that they can shut down any union talk. This means that Whole Foods is actively working to ensure the wages and rights of low-income workers remain constrained. This is undeniably despicable.

Another major criteria of the heat map is employee satisfaction and customer complaints. Employees who are dissatisfied with their workplace may seek to increase the status of workers through the creation or joining of a union. Whole Foods is reportedly funneling “resources” to stores with low worker satisfaction, but no details have been revealed on what those resources may be.

Whole Foods’ statement on the story is also troubling. The company states that it standswith an “overwhelming majority” of its workers in believing a direct relationship with the company will be more successful at solving problems than forming a union. Unfortunately, it appears Whole Foods is trying to manufacture consent from its employees to not form a union, as no data or polling has been released that indicates Whole Foods workers are not interested in forming unions. It is hard to believe that a company investing in union tracking is not worried about their workers’ devotion.

Whole Foods also stated that workers who have issues with their workplace should speak directly to management, rather than seek help from a union. This is a clear attempt to remove employee leverage in talks with employers. When an employee enters their boss’ office to complain without the support of a union, they are acting alone. They have no leverage other than their own labor, which is easily replaced. They risk being fired, and it would be difficult for them to speak candidly. When an employee talks with their boss with a union behind them, they have much more leverage, as many other workers are willing to take measures against the company to have demands met. When massive amounts of labor are at risk of being withheld, production could be stalled, and the company will be much more willing to come to the table and make concessions to workers.

Unions make the lives of their workers materially better. Union workers have, on average, 27% higher wages than nonunion workers. Union workers are also much more likely to have quality healthcare and real pensions. It is ethically wrong to bust unions at all, but the fact that Whole Foods focuses on busting in low-income areas makes this underhanded tactic all the more egregious. Considering that Whole Foods’ parent company, Amazon, touted nearly $12 billion in profits last year, they could clearly afford to make the lives of their workers a little better, and would likely see increases in productivity as a result.

Whole Foods’ mapping of stores that are likely to form unions is obvious and despicable union busting and an exercise in corporate greed. The benefits workers see under unions due to greater bargaining power is far too valuable for Whole Foods to get away with this. They must be stopped. One can only hope this story breaking inspires Whole Foods workers to get together, stick it to their oppressive employer and form a union already.

'Minority Report Union-Busting' Tactics at Whole Foods Decried Following Reporting on Company's Labor Activism Heat Map
The company, which is owned by Amazon, uses factors like race, turnover, and "loyalty" to determine each store's score.

April 20, 2020
Progressives on Monday criticized Whole Foods, the grocery chain owned by Amazon, for using a heat map to track potential union activity at its stores across the U.S.—relying on data around racial diversity, "loyalty," and labor complaints as indicators that affect how the corporation scores the sites.

"This is infuriating but it's also a testament to the urgency and importance of essential workers unionizing," tweeted The Atlantic's Adam Serwer.

Union-busting but make it high tech

— Tonya Riley (@TonyaJoRiley) April 20, 2020

Business Insider's Hayley Peterson on Monday broke the "legitimately explosive news" of the heat map and scoring system being used at the company's 510 stores nationwide.

According to Peterson's reporting:

The stores' individual risk scores are calculated from more than two dozen metrics, including employee "loyalty," turnover, and racial diversity; "tipline" calls to human resources; proximity to a union office; and violations recorded by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The map also tracks local economic and demographic factors such as the unemployment rate in a store's location and the percentage of families in the area living below the poverty line.

Whole Foods and Amazon have resisted unionization efforts even as the coronavirus pandemic has amped up worker frustrations and led to strikes and actions around the country. Workers are increasingly fed up with inadequate safety standards and access to protective equipment at the essential grocery stores and retail distribution centers.

As Common Dreams reported on April 15, Whole Foods and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, has already made $24 billion in 2020 as the pandemic rages around the country and the world.

Progressives reacted to the news of the heat map with outrage, with Vice reporter Ashwin Rodrigues referring to the tactic as "minority report union busting."

Journalist Ben Norton on Twitter echoed the apocalyptic fiction theme.

"We are living in a real-life dystopia," said Norton, adding, "This is some evil science fiction shit."
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