Whole Foods employees nationwide are planning a social-distancing-friendly strike set for Tuesday, March 31st by asking their fellow employees to stay home and call in sick in an effort to get better coronavirus protections during the course of the global pandemic. “On March 31st, DO NOT GO TO WORK,” reads a statement by Whole Worker, the national worker’s group of Whole Foods employees that organized the sick-out.
The plan calls for all employees to call in sick and demand guaranteed paid leave for all workers who isolate or self-quarantine, a reinstatement of health care coverage for all part-time and seasonal workers, free coronavirus testing and treatment for all team members, guaranteed hazard pay in the form of double-time pay, new in-store policies that facilitate social distancing between workers and customers, a commitment to ensuring all locations have adequate sanitation equipment, and the immediate shutdown of any location where a worker test positive for COVID-19 — in which all employees would continue to receive full pay until the store can safely reopen.
According to Whole Worker, “Whole Foods has temporarily relaxed its strict attendance policy, which means that team members can participate in this act of protest without fear of reprisal. We encourage all retail workers at other companies to join us in this act of solidarity.” Currently, the company has boosted wages for all U.S. and Canadian workers by $2 per hour and promised paid leave for all workers diagnosed with COVID-19, but The Hill reports that recent cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Whole Foods locations in Chicago, New York City and Huntington Beach California yet those locations are all still open.
This protest follows a similar move by Amazon workers who walked out of a Staten Island workshop on Monday, March 30th, after the warehouse was kept open despite a positive coronavirus case being found in a worker at the warehouse. Considering Jeff Bezos, who owns both Amazon and Whole Foods, has a net worth of 119.9 billion USD, dude could easily drop $1 billion on supporting his works in a second. Instead, Vice reports that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has suggested healthy employees donate their unused sick-pay to help fellow workers who might become infected by the virus.