Whole Foods Market Employees Plan “Mass Sick Out”

Increasing concerns over the health and safety of workers amid the spread of COVID-19 has lead to several strikes. Yesterday (March 30, 2020) employees at Amazon and Instacart announced plans to walk off the job in a show of solidarity for better pay and protection. Today, workers at Whole Foods Market reportedly are planning a “mass sick out.”

The group “Whole Worker,” which describes itself as a “grassroots movement of WFM team members collectively voicing our experiences at Whole Foods and working to unionize,” announced the plans on Twitter, saying: “We call on Whole Foods Market employees to engage in a mass sick out on March 31 #GlobalSickOut #March31st #RetailMarchMadness.”

The tweet also included a petition that says: “As this situation has progressed, our fundamental needs as workers have become more urgent. COVID-19 poses a very real threat to the safety of our workforce and our customers. We cannot wait for politicians, institutions, or our own management to step in to protect us.”

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In the petition, the strike organized called on Amazon to allocate necessary resources, including:

  • Guaranteed paid leave for all workers who isolate or self-quarantine instead of coming to work.
  • Reinstatement of health care coverage for part-time and seasonal workers.
  • Increased FSA funds to cover coronavirus testing and treatment for all team members, including part-time and seasonal.
  • Guaranteed hazard pay in the form of double pay during scheduled hours.
  • Implementation of policies to facilitate social distancing between workers and customers.
  • Commitment to ensuring all locations have adequate sanitation equipment and procedures in place.
  • Immediate shutdown of any location where a worker tests positive for COVID-19–and continued full pay for employees until the store can safely reopen.

In a statement to USA Today, Whole Foods Market said, “As we address unprecedented demand and fulfill a critical need in our communities, Whole Foods Market is committed to prioritizing our Team Members’ well-being, while recognizing their extraordinary dedication.”

Whole Foods Market’s COVID-19 response is posted on its site, and says: “We believe our role serving customers and the community during this time is a critical one. We care about our team members, customers and products, and we’re evaluating the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in real-time.”