16 votes

Whole Foods employees are staging a nationwide "sick-out"

34 comments

  1. Gaywallet
    Link
    Glad to see more and more strikes and unionization happening during these trying times. No one else is fighting for the common person, it's time to rise up and take back some power.

    Glad to see more and more strikes and unionization happening during these trying times. No one else is fighting for the common person, it's time to rise up and take back some power.

    23 votes
  2. [31]
    EscReality
    Link
    Unless you are working in the Medical industry asking for double Hazard pay is just dumb (and naive). I keep seeing retail employees asking for that in various articles. They want double pay for...

    Unless you are working in the Medical industry asking for double Hazard pay is just dumb (and naive). I keep seeing retail employees asking for that in various articles. They want double pay for showing up and doing their job in basically the same conditions they have always done their job in? Most WholeFoods workers make $15 an hour, so they are demanding $30 an hour... That's delusional.

    My primary grocer is WholeFoods and they have done a fine job to ensure social distancing and the safety of both their staff and employees. WholeFoods has provided mask and gloves to all its workers (and obviously sanitizer and stuff) and has done a great job of using bright yellow tape to show how people should be distanced.

    Whole Foods—a subsidiary of Amazon— has increased hourly pay for its workers by $2 an hour, offered to provide two weeks of paid sick leave to workers who test positive for Covid-19, and said it would not penalize workers for calling out sick.

    That seems like a pretty reasonable response. They are already getting more money, no penalties for calling out (unheard of in retail) and paid sick leave (also unheard of in retail).

    The only thing it seems like they need to change is the requirement for a diagnosis for sick leave, a doctor's note should be enough.

    4 votes
    1. [28]
      JXM
      Link Parent
      But it’s not the same conditions. They’re taking a major risk by being exposed to hundreds (if not thousands) of people per day.

      They want double pay for showing up and doing their job in basically the same conditions they have always done their job in?

      But it’s not the same conditions. They’re taking a major risk by being exposed to hundreds (if not thousands) of people per day.

      24 votes
      1. [27]
        EscReality
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Which is while Amazon has already increased their pay by $2 per hour (about 14% of base pay). If they keep up with good social distancing, PPE and such that should be more than enough. Asking for...

        Which is while Amazon has already increased their pay by $2 per hour (about 14% of base pay).

        If they keep up with good social distancing, PPE and such that should be more than enough.

        Asking for double pay is delusional. They are not First Responders, they are retail employees.

        EDIT: and to add to this, one could argue that no it has not really changed. They do their job every day being exposed to hundreds of people that could be carrying any number of illnesses just as or possibly worse than COVID19. Corona is bad, so they are already getting hazard pay, they shouldn't be asking for more.

        The Department of Labor defines Hazard Pay as;

        Hazard pay means additional pay for performing hazardous duty or work involving physical hardship. Work duty that causes extreme physical discomfort and distress which is not adequately alleviated by protective devices is deemed to impose a physical hardship.

        By that definition, they are not even entitled to it in the first place. WholeFoods has done a great job providing them with protection in everyway they can.

        1 vote
        1. [24]
          moonbathers
          Link Parent
          But we've seen how important grocery store workers are. They're essential to the economy and to people's well-being, why are they making such little money?

          But we've seen how important grocery store workers are. They're essential to the economy and to people's well-being, why are they making such little money?

          19 votes
          1. [11]
            Loire
            Link Parent
            The job requires no skills, no education, no strong language qualifications, no experience, a minimal level of physical ability beyond standing for long periods. I have had 15 year old and 70 year...

            The job requires no skills, no education, no strong language qualifications, no experience, a minimal level of physical ability beyond standing for long periods. I have had 15 year old and 70 year old cashiers, cashiers that couldn't speak a lick of English, cashiers that couldn't do basic addition in their head. All of them got the job done. Hell all of them are fairly easily replaced by self checkouts.

            It can be done by literally anyone that's willing. And while that doesn't mean they don't deserve a living wage (which at 15$ an hour, they are making), that doesn't mean they deserve to be making 30 dollars an hour either.

            Hazard pay for a job that can result in injury or death is typically 10% or a flat monthly rate. It's not 100%.

            4 votes
            1. [10]
              moonbathers
              Link Parent
              My point is that it only took a week of people not working for the economy to be brought to its knees. The stock market shit the bed and people started talking about opening the country back up....

              My point is that it only took a week of people not working for the economy to be brought to its knees. The stock market shit the bed and people started talking about opening the country back up. The country doesn't run without grocery store workers and we should be treating them and all support staff better. It may not be "skilled" labor but it's not easy work.

              8 votes
              1. [9]
                EscReality
                Link Parent
                Which is why they already have hazard pay of $2 per hour (which is 14% of base pay). That's a fair amount, they shouldn't be asking for more.

                Which is why they already have hazard pay of $2 per hour (which is 14% of base pay). That's a fair amount, they shouldn't be asking for more.

                1 vote
                1. [8]
                  moonbathers
                  Link Parent
                  They should ask for however much they want because they're the people that are keeping society going.

                  They should ask for however much they want because they're the people that are keeping society going.

                  5 votes
                  1. [7]
                    EscReality
                    Link Parent
                    So they should risk collapsing said society for selfish personal gain? That's really terrible logic.

                    So they should risk collapsing said society for selfish personal gain?

                    That's really terrible logic.

                    1. [3]
                      ibis
                      (edited )
                      Link Parent
                      Selfish?? Lol do you have any idea how much wealth Jeff Bezos is selfishly hoarding right now? https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qSOVBiEotaw But sure, keep shaming the workers who are exposing...

                      Selfish?? Lol do you have any idea how much wealth Jeff Bezos is selfishly hoarding right now?

                      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qSOVBiEotaw

                      But sure, keep shaming the workers who are exposing themselves to covid to keep everyone fed, because they want $30 an hour.

                      Edit: also consider that the workers are endangering their families as well as themselves.

                      5 votes
                      1. [2]
                        EscReality
                        Link Parent
                        It has nothing to do with Bezos, its selfish to their community.

                        It has nothing to do with Bezos, its selfish to their community.

                        1. ibis
                          Link Parent
                          The extra money either goes to him - the richest man in the world, or workers who are putting themselves and their families at risk. If Jeff Bezos gets it, it gets hoarded with the rest of his...

                          The extra money either goes to him - the richest man in the world, or workers who are putting themselves and their families at risk.

                          If Jeff Bezos gets it, it gets hoarded with the rest of his wealth. If the workers get it, it’ll likely be spent in their communities.

                          There is literally no argument for that extra $15 per hour per worker going to the richest man in the world instead of front-line employees.

                          1 vote
                    2. [3]
                      moonbathers
                      Link Parent
                      What's selfish is that people's worth to society is considered to be how much money they make and how much money they make doesn't reflect how much they actually contribute to society. We risk...

                      What's selfish is that people's worth to society is considered to be how much money they make and how much money they make doesn't reflect how much they actually contribute to society. We risk collapsing said society if these people making shit money decide it's not worth risking their and their family's health for an extra $2 an hour. If they get coronavirus, they're out of work and they and anyone who relies on them is suddenly missing bills and rent, not to mention the ludicrous cost of medical care and the risk of permanent lung damage. Would you risk your lung capacity for an extra $2 an hour?

                      We do not have food if they decide to stay home. Everyone involved in the process of getting food to grocery stores and keeping those stores open has been deemed essential for a reason, and they should be paid like it. If we value having food so much why do we treat the people who help stock that food so poorly?

                      4 votes
                      1. [2]
                        EscReality
                        Link Parent
                        Its not though. Its determined by how skilled their job is. They get paid so little because literally anyone is capable of doing the job. Yes, the job is essential, the individual employee is not....

                        people's worth to society is considered to be how much money they make

                        Its not though. Its determined by how skilled their job is.

                        They get paid so little because literally anyone is capable of doing the job.

                        Yes, the job is essential, the individual employee is not.

                        The reason a Doctor gets paid so much is because its a skilled job that requires years of training. Doctors are not easily replaceable, the Doctor as an individual is essential.

                        Do you see the difference? It has nothing to do with how much money they make.

                        1. frostycakes
                          Link Parent
                          Ironic that the people I have the hardest time training to work well in a grocery store, and the ones who end up getting fired because of bad attitudes and poor work, are largely the part-timers...

                          Ironic that the people I have the hardest time training to work well in a grocery store, and the ones who end up getting fired because of bad attitudes and poor work, are largely the part-timers who have 'professional' jobs as their main ones. Sure, in theory anyone can be trained to be a cashier, but to be a good and effective one first requires one to not see themselves as above the job, something which our culture makes exceedingly difficult for people used to a white-collar milieu to understand and internalize.

                          Just because one can ring up items and memorize PLUs easily doesn't mean that they know how to interact with customers well, how to keep their cool when people drop attitude and condescenscion, and how to deal with customers who bring attitudes of "well, literally anyone can do this" to every interaction with service industry staff without losing their cool.

                          The core of the job is easy, the emotional labor of customer service work is something that's a lot more difficult, and difficult to train into people at all if they don't have the skills to do so to begin with.

                          It's honestly amusing to think of a lot of my coworkers from my prior white collar work and how at least half of them couldn't last a week interacting with the general public.

                          5 votes
          2. [12]
            EscReality
            Link Parent
            Because it's an entry level job that anyone can do. It's not skilled labor. First Responders, Medical Works, etc, get big hazard pay because they are essential as a person. They cannot be easily...

            why are they making such little money?

            Because it's an entry level job that anyone can do. It's not skilled labor.

            First Responders, Medical Works, etc, get big hazard pay because they are essential as a person. They cannot be easily replaced, you can't just go out on the street and find a new nurse or paramedic. They need to retain them because there are not more of them.

            Every Wholefoods cashier could quit tomorrow and they could have most their jobs filled by the end of the day.

            2 votes
            1. moonbathers
              Link Parent
              But we need people to be grocery store workers, cleaning staff, support staff, etc. Shouldn't their pay be a bit closer to what they contribute to society?

              But we need people to be grocery store workers, cleaning staff, support staff, etc. Shouldn't their pay be a bit closer to what they contribute to society?

              13 votes
            2. [7]
              Diet_Coke
              Link Parent
              Right now there are plenty of people who can't do it - underlying conditions, old, don't want to risk getting sick, etc. They are in as good a bargaining position as they'll ever be in. What...

              Right now there are plenty of people who can't do it - underlying conditions, old, don't want to risk getting sick, etc. They are in as good a bargaining position as they'll ever be in. What you're paid isn't linked to what you produce, it's what you can bargain for. I guess we'll see if everyone who calls in sick gets fired and the stores are up and running Saturday.

              7 votes
              1. [6]
                EscReality
                Link Parent
                There are around 10-15 million restaurant employees currently furloughed because of COVID19, most of us would love to find a temp cashier job to tide us over till we can get back cooking again....

                There are around 10-15 million restaurant employees currently furloughed because of COVID19, most of us would love to find a temp cashier job to tide us over till we can get back cooking again. There are plenty of people that would take those jobs, honestly they should be grateful that they are even able to work.

                3 votes
                1. Gaywallet
                  Link Parent
                  Then they can fire their entire employee base and hire a bunch of new people and see how well that works out for them

                  Then they can fire their entire employee base and hire a bunch of new people and see how well that works out for them

                  11 votes
                2. [4]
                  Diet_Coke
                  Link Parent
                  Around me, the grocery stores and Amazon etc are all hiring. There are probably still some cashier and stocker jobs up for grabs. Heck, don't be a scab and you might even make good money for a few...

                  Around me, the grocery stores and Amazon etc are all hiring. There are probably still some cashier and stocker jobs up for grabs. Heck, don't be a scab and you might even make good money for a few months.

                  5 votes
                  1. [3]
                    EscReality
                    Link Parent
                    Never said I was going to do it, even with hazard pay being a cashier would not come close to what I make as a Chef.

                    Never said I was going to do it, even with hazard pay being a cashier would not come close to what I make as a Chef.

                    1. [2]
                      frostycakes
                      Link Parent
                      $15/hr is still more than the $0/hr most of my friends who work in restaurants are making right now, though.

                      $15/hr is still more than the $0/hr most of my friends who work in restaurants are making right now, though.

                      1 vote
                      1. EscReality
                        Link Parent
                        Me and most of my coworkers are currently on Job Attached Unemployment. Between the state unemployment and the money from the stimulus we are better off just riding things out until we can go back...

                        Me and most of my coworkers are currently on Job Attached Unemployment. Between the state unemployment and the money from the stimulus we are better off just riding things out until we can go back to work. Sure we could take a part time gig at WholeFoods, Amazon or UPS but that would mean losing our unemployment that is based off of our real incomes. It's just not worth it when we know we will be back at work... someday.

            3. [3]
              psi
              Link Parent
              That's a strange redefinition of "hazard pay". Hazard pay means exactly that -- extra pay for hazardous work. Or as the Department of Labor writes: Certainly the hazard to healthcare workers is...

              First Responders, Medical Works, etc, get big hazard pay because they are essential as a person.

              That's a strange redefinition of "hazard pay". Hazard pay means exactly that -- extra pay for hazardous work. Or as the Department of Labor writes:

              Hazard pay means additional pay for performing hazardous duty or work involving physical hardship.

              Certainly the hazard to healthcare workers is greater, but that has nothing to do with them being replaceable. Healthcare workers will be exposed to infected individuals more often and through actions have a greater chance of exposure. That said, their protection is also greater (despite rationing).

              Every Wholefoods cashier could quit tomorrow and they could have most their jobs filled by the end of the day.

              Could they though?

              3 votes
              1. [2]
                Loire
                Link Parent
                Hazard pay is also typically 10% as per the Department of Labour. Sure there's an argument for starting high in a bargain but if you start at 100% over the going rate be prepared to be laughed at.

                Hazard pay is also typically 10% as per the Department of Labour.

                Sure there's an argument for starting high in a bargain but if you start at 100% over the going rate be prepared to be laughed at.

                1. EscReality
                  Link Parent
                  Exactly, now if they were starting at triple the hazard pay they are currently getting (while hoping for double) that would make sense. Asking for an extra $6 an hour (while being willing to...

                  if you start at 100% over the going rate be prepared to be laughed at.

                  Exactly, now if they were starting at triple the hazard pay they are currently getting (while hoping for double) that would make sense. Asking for an extra $6 an hour (while being willing to settle for $4) is reasonable and will actually be looked at by Amazon. Asking for double your income will just get laughed at by everyone.

                  1 vote
        2. [2]
          JXM
          Link Parent
          Well, from a negotiation standpoint you should always ask for more than you want and meet in the middle so I get what they’re doing.

          Well, from a negotiation standpoint you should always ask for more than you want and meet in the middle so I get what they’re doing.

          3 votes
          1. EscReality
            Link Parent
            Sure, but they are asking for something they already have. $2 per hour is 14% of base pay, that's a very reasonable amount when you consider that legally WholeFoods not required to give them anything.

            Sure, but they are asking for something they already have. $2 per hour is 14% of base pay, that's a very reasonable amount when you consider that legally WholeFoods not required to give them anything.

    2. skybrian
      Link Parent
      I don't know if they will get $30/hour but asking for more money than you think you'll get is an accepted bargaining tactic in business, and they are in quite a good position to ask for more...

      I don't know if they will get $30/hour but asking for more money than you think you'll get is an accepted bargaining tactic in business, and they are in quite a good position to ask for more money.

      I am reminded of how the CEO of Stripe is always telling people to charge more.

      15 votes
    3. psi
      Link Parent
      My girlfriend works retail. When the schools around us closed, she and her coworkers started getting antsy -- they aren't paid sick leave and they have no PPE. When her coworkers started asking...

      My girlfriend works retail. When the schools around us closed, she and her coworkers started getting antsy -- they aren't paid sick leave and they have no PPE. When her coworkers started asking the owner about paid sick leave, he responded by boasting about how great this pandemic has been for his business; minimizing the danger (he compared the pandemic to a stint with a bad landlord); telling coworkers they should be extra-diligent with cleaning (but only if there's leftover time after restocking items/helping customers); and ultimately, whining that now was not the appropriate time to ask about sick leave.

      But should they get sick, he would require them to take two unpaid weeks off.

      Given the number of customers she interacts with and the owner's minimal interest in ensuring their safety, her getting sick became an inevitability. Meanwhile, her boss was making historic profits. Now her employer wasn't Whole Foods, but ultimately so much of the situation carries over: people are being forced to risk their health -- and quite literally, their lives -- while shareholders makes record profits with no risk to themselves. Retail workers aren't working out of the kindness of their hearts or for extra beer money; they're working because the other option is homelessness.

      Healthcare workers take an oath to help people. They're also in danger, but the risk of sickness comes with the job. Retail workers did not sign up for this. They should not be expected to work; if they feel the risk is too great, they should receive unemployment insurance. Those who do continue to work should be duly compensated.

      As an epilogue, I convinced my girlfriend to leave her job and told her I'd cover her expenses, despite the meager pay I make as a grad student. Ironically enough, she only took that job for the health insurance, but what good is health insurance if your job is guaranteeing you'll get sick anyway? My landlord -- a public health professor -- reached out to us, asked about our circumstances, and offered us a discount on our rent. Our landlord, whom I've only met once, was more generous than her employer, whom she'd work with for years.

      9 votes
  3. moocow1452
    Link
    My brother works at Whole Foods, but he doesn't work today due to a prior arrangement so I can't really give that much insight than the article.

    My brother works at Whole Foods, but he doesn't work today due to a prior arrangement so I can't really give that much insight than the article.

    1 vote
  4. skybrian
    Link
    From the article: [...] [...]

    From the article:

    On March 31, Whole Foods employees will call in sick to demand paid leave for all workers who stay home or self-quarantine during the crisis, free coronavirus testing for all employees, and hazard pay of double the current hourly wage for employees who show up to work during the pandemic.

    [...]

    The sick-out follows reports that Whole Foods workers at numerous stores across the country, including locations in New York City, Chicago, Louisiana, and California have tested positive for Covid-19. In each of these locations, the stores have remained open, leading some employees to charge that Whole Foods has failed to prioritize their safety during a period of record sales for the company.

    [...]

    One Whole Foods worker in New England who wished to remain anonymous told Motherboard that her doctor asked her to quarantine for two weeks after she experienced coronavirus symptoms, but Whole Foods has refused to accept her doctor’s note or provide her with sick leave because her symptoms were not severe enough for her to get tested and she did not travel to an area with a coronavirus outbreak.

    4 votes