Whole Foods

Some Whole Foods Workers Call for Sickout Due to Virus Exposure Concerns

The move comes a day after employees for online grocery-delivery service Instacart walked off the job demanding greater safeguards against the coronavirus

NBC Universal, Inc.

As demand surges during the COVID-19 pandemic, some front-line grocery and delivery workers, increasingly concerned over their own health and safety, are holding strikes and walkouts.

Whole Foods employees are calling for a nationwide "sickout" on Tuesday to protest the lack of protections low-wage workers serving the community have during the coronavirus pandemic.

"I’m going to probably contract this — and it’s going to probably be at work," a Whole Foods employee who requested anonymity told NBCLA.

He said he doesn't feel Whole Foods has done enough to protect him.

Workers say they want paid leave for any employee who self-quarantines, reinstatement of health care for part-time and seasonal workers, hazard pay in the form of double the current hourly wage and a commitment to shutdown any store if an employee tests positive for COVID-19.

"There's been this laissez-faire attitude about the whole thing...and I don't think there’s enough being done to safeguard the workers that are out there providing," the employee said.

The move comes a day after employees for online grocery-delivery service Instacart walked off the job demanding greater safeguards against the coronavirus.

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Workers for both companies are considered essential employees and required to work.

Brittany Conard also works at Whole Foods. She says she feels the company is doing its best to protect its essential employees. 

"We have plenty of gloves and hand sanitizers, that’s just the minimal," Conard said. "But we also have a security guard at the front door with me making sure that people are staying within six feet of me, letting them know we need to start a line."

A Whole Foods spokesperson provided the following statement to NBCLA:

"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. 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. Team Members in our stores and facilities also have access to up to two weeks of paid time off if they test positive for COVID or are quarantined, an additional $2 per hour on top of hourly base pay, and increased overtime pay. Whole Foods Market's longstanding open door policy encourages direct dialogue between Team Members and leadership, feedback which continues to shape the decisions we are making every day."

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