Amazon bought Whole Foods in 2017. Since then, working conditions have gotten worse in many ways. Here are 7 of them.
1. Medical benefits for part-time workers
Beginning January 1, 2020, Whole Foods cut medical benefits for nearly 2,000 of its part-time workers. Meanwhile, workers in various stores anonymously report an increasing percentage of part-time workers versus full-time. This would mean Whole Foods is deliberately cutting both hours and benefits.
2. The ability to dress like an individual and support social justice movements and local vendors through clothing and accessories
The new dress code policy went into effect November 2, 2020. According to documents obtained by Business Insider, the dress code “…prohibits busy patterns on clothing or face coverings, buttons or pins on employee aprons, ripped jeans, athleisure, and t-shirts with visible logos, slogans, messages, or flags of any kind.” The new dress code arrives after employees at several stores were forbidden from wearing clothing in support of Black Lives Matter earlier in 2020.
In addition, employees can no longer wear hats and shirts provided by Whole Foods vendors.
3. Well-deserved hazard pay, even though the hazard has not gone away
Amidst the pandemic, Whole Foods temporarily paid workers an additional $2 an hour, but that expired June 1, 2020. This has rightfully upset many workers, who continue to be at-risk of contracting COVID-19—especially as local mask mandates loosen, and indoor dining and other pre-pandemic store operations resume.
4. Net wage gains (despite wage increases)
Amazon enacted a $15 minimum wage for all its employees on November 1, 2018.
But since this wage increase, many Whole Foods workers claim they’ve experienced widespread cuts that have reduced schedule shifts across many stores. This often negates workers’ wage gains.
5. Stock vesting plans and bonuses
Amazon, and thus, Whole Foods, ended bonus and stock incentive programs for warehouse and customer service workers in 2018. According to NBC, “…those payments rewarded workers for staying with the company and for working consistently.”
6. 15-minute paid breaks
In January 2021, Whole Foods reduced paid breaks from 15 minutes to 10 minutes for many of its more than 90,000 workers.
Workers in various regions get two paid breaks during a typical 8.5-hour shift. Now, they’ll have 10 minutes less to rest each work day.
7. Local flavor and connection to nearby community
An anonymous Portland, Oregon, Whole Foods worker claims their store had a locally produced hot sauce that was very popular among customers at tables. That didn’t stop the store from replacing it with packets of salt and pepper. While this might seem like a minor grievance, Whole Foods workers across regions are concerned with Amazon’s standardization of signage and processes erasing local flair and connection.
Read more about Jeff Bezos and Amazon, or about recent wins for grocery and food service workers here.