Workers at Whole Foods grocery stores across the nation are calling for a “global sickout” on Tuesday, March 31, in response to the company’s policy on sick leave in the time of coronavirus.
“We cannot wait for politicians, institutions, or our own management to step in to protect us,” the Whole Worker’s National Organizing Committee said in a statement.
The workers are calling on Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon, to guarantee paid leave for all workers who isolate or self-quarantine, to reinstate health care coverage for part-time and seasonal workers, to increase testing among workers and to guarantee hazard pay in the form of double pay during regular scheduled hours.
The workers are also calling on the company to implement policies on social distancing between workers and customers, and make sure all stores have adequate sanitation equipment in place.
Employees also want the immediate shutdown of any location where a worker tests positive for the coronavirus. “In such an event, all workers should continue to receive full pay until the store can safely reopen,” the employees say.
“We are working harder than we have ever worked,” the committee said. “We are putting our lives at risk. We deserve to have our needs met.”
In an email, Whole Foods said it has taken extensive safety measures— including deep cleaning and crowd control measures—as it continues to roll out new safety protocols to protect employees on the front lines serving customers.
Employees also have access to up to two weeks of paid time off if they test positive for COVID-19 or are quarantined. The company has also increased hourly base pay by $2 per hour and increased overtime pay, store officials stated.
“As we address unprecedented demand and fulfill a critical need in our communities, Whole Foods Market is committed to prioritizing our Team Members’ wellbeing, while recognizing their extraordinary dedication,” a Whole Foods Market spokesperson stated.
The company operates two stores in Long Beach at the 2nd+PCH shopping center and a Whole Foods 365 location at Long Beach Exchange.