What you need to know about Whole Foods workers’ ‘sickout’ protest planned for Tuesday

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You might notice an absence in staff at your local Whole Foods Market store if you going shopping on Tuesday.

Whole Foods workers are planning a strike that calls on all employees to engage in a mass sick out.

“As this situation has progressed, our fundamental needs as workers have become more urgent,” the petition reads. “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.”

According to the petition posted online by Whole Worker’s National Organizing Committee, the sick out was originally planned to occur on May 1, but it is urgent that the workers take action sooner, the petition said.

“We will be staging this sick out earlier than initially planned. Whole Foods employees are already getting sick. We must act NOW,” the petition reads.

Whole Foods has recently been sending automated calls to its employees to share the news that a coworker has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. When answering the call, employees are asked to confirm their receipt of the message.

As of 10 a.m. on Monday, the petition to not go to work has received 677 signatures, meeting 84% of its goal.

According to the petition, workers who participate in the act of protest can do so without fear of reprisal as Whole Foods has temporarily relaxed its strict attendance policy.

Employees are calling upon Amazon, the owner of Whole Foods Market, to allocate the necessary resources in order for them to safely perform at their workplace.

“Amazon and its subsidiary Whole Foods dared to keep open an Amazon warehouse and two Whole Foods stores where employees tested positive for COVID-19. We must prioritize the health of our workers over short-term financial gain,” the petition reads.

According to the petition, the workers say they need the following:

  • 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 new policies that can facilitate social distancing between workers and customers.
  • Commitment to ensuring that all locations have adequate sanitation equipment and procedures in place.
  • An immediate shutdown of any location where a worker tests positive for COVID-19. In such an event, all workers should continue to receive full pay until the store can safely reopen.

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