Whole Foods employees are demanding better pay and protections as they work through the new coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, employees of the Amazon-owned grocery chain plan to call in sick en masse in the company's first collective workplace strike since its founding in 1980, Vice reports. They're seeking paid leave for all workers who call out sick or are quarantining during the pandemic, free COVID-19 testing for all employees, and hazard pay that doubles the current hourly wage for workers.
Whole Foods employees and others who work at grocery stores have been deemed essential employees throughout the coronavirus pandemic, putting them at increased risk of catching the virus. Employees at Whole Foods locations in several states have tested positive for COVID-19, Vice reports. Whole Foods responded to news of the "sickout" by offering a temporary pay increase of $2 an hour for every worker and two weeks of paid leave for those who test positive for COVID-19, "which isn't enough," an anonymous organizer told Vice. "It's very plausible that some of us will die for this job."
Shoppers for the grocery delivery service Instacart started their nationwide walkout on Monday to similarly demand additional hazard pay for every delivery, paid protections such as hand sanitizer and gloves, and expanded sick leave. Employees at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island, New York also walked out Monday to protest their continued work even though an employee was confirmed to have COVID-19 case. And at a General Electric factory outside Boston, workers actually walked off the job to demand they start making ventilators to address a nationwide shortage.