AUSTIN, Texas — Workers for Austin-based grocery chain Whole Foods are planning to strike on Tuesday, calling the move a globally-organized "sick out."
A labor movement within Whole Foods, Whole Worker, created an online petition. The group is calling for things like guaranteed paid leave for workers who self-quarantine, health care coverage for part-time workers and the immediate shutdown of any Whole Foods location where a worker tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).
The group is also calling for increased FSA funds to cover coronavirus testing and treatment for all team members, guaranteed hazard pay in the form of doubling scheduled hours and new policies facilitating social distancing between workers and customers.
Whole Foods sent KVUE a statement saying it has taken extensive measures to keep people safe by doing things like deep-cleaning the stores. Whole Foods also said they do offer two weeks of paid time off if a worker tests positive for COVID-19 or is quarantined. The company has also given workers a $2 per hour pay boost and increased overtime pay.
Below is Whole Foods' full statement:
"As we address unprecedented demand and fulfill a critical need in our communities, Whole Foods Market is committed to prioritizing our Team Members’ wellbeing, while recognizing their extraordinary dedication. We have taken extensive measures to keep people safe, and in addition to social distancing, enhanced deep cleaning and crowd control measures, we continue rolling out new safety protocols in our stores to protect our Team Members who are on the front lines serving our customers. Team Members in our stores and facilities also have access to up to two weeks of paid time off if they test positive for COVID or are quarantined, an additional $2 per hour on top of hourly base pay, and increased overtime pay. Whole Foods Market's longstanding open door policy encourages direct dialogue between Team Members and leadership, feedback which continues to shape the decisions we are making every day."
Whole Foods isn't the only grocery-related company facing worker distress. Employees for grocery delivery service Instacart are demanding better pay and more protective gear for when they're shopping for customers in stores. And the same goes for Amazon employees in New York, who have been working to fill tons of orders. Many of them walked out of warehouses on Monday, calling for more safety protection at those locations too.
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