Whole Foods Employees Pursue Unionizing

It’s come close to happening before, but a tight labor market might push things a little further this time around.
September 13, 2018

AUSTIN, Texas – Whole Foods employees want to unionize and fight back to changes made under the ownership of Amazon. A group of employees sent an email to workers at most of the 490 Whole Foods stores urging them to join the unionization drive, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In the email, workers describe their unhappiness with current compensation and benefits. It calls for a $15 minimum wage, paid maternity leave, a matching 401k plan and other benefits. The employees also suggest that some problems will get worse with Amazon in charge—pointing to layoffs made in order to streamline daily operations. The email calls for the creation of a “cross-regional” committee to address worker concerns with Whole Foods.

A few months after Amazon acquired Whole Foods, a new “scorecard” system and order-to-shelf system were implemented. The scorecards ensured that employees followed through with the new inventory-management system. But employees quickly criticized the system, saying it’s too stringent. The Amazon leadership also changed stock option offerings: Options are no longer available to lower-level staff members while 94% had gone to nonexecutive employees before Amazon took ownership.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is assisting Whole Foods employees and has been talking with them more frequently since Amazon acquired the chain. But this isn’t the first time Whole Foods workers have wanted union representation.

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