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The group, Whole Worker, has asked that Whole Foods enact several changes to its employment policies in order to protect workers, including guaranteed paid leave for employees who want to self-isolate, hazard pay that doubles typical wages and health care benefits for part-time workers. Additionally, the activists want Whole Foods to immediately shutter any store where an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus.
“On March 31st, DO NOT GO TO WORK,” the group said in an announcement. “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.”
The coronavirus outbreak has strained grocery store workers and supply chains as concerned Americans stock up on supplies. The widespread implementation of social distancing protocols has led many to rely on grocery store delivery through Whole Foods or other platforms.
When reached for comment on the planned walkout, a Whole Foods representative detailed the company’s efforts to support its employees. The grocery store chain has boosted wages for workers by $2 per hour during the crisis, enacted paid leave of up to two weeks for employees who test positive or are under quarantine and increased overtime pay.
“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,” a Whole Foods spokesperson said.
Whole Foods parent Amazon announced earlier this month that it would hire 100,000 to boost its staffing at warehouses and in its delivery network to meet increased demand.
However, some Amazon employees have also protested their working conditions. Workers at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, staged a walkout on Monday after an employee at the location tested positive for coronavirus.