Amazon, Whole Foods and grocery delivery workers to strike Friday

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Workers at Amazon, Whole Foods, Instacart and Shipt say they will walk off the job Friday in protest of their employers’ failures to protect them during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a flyer shared on social media, organizers of the “May Day General Strike” call on customers to boycott Whole Foods, Amazon, Instacart and Target, which owns Shipt.

Friday’s strike comes amid rising activism from workers at the companies, many of who have been exposed to and even died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

“Because of the failings of our employers, many of our fellow employees have contracted this deadly virus and some have died,” the strike’s organizers wrote in a press release Wednesday. “Although there have been some changes in company policies, they are not enough to adequately protect us.”

An Amazon spokesperson told The Hill in a statement that the company objects “to the irresponsible actions of labor groups in spreading misinformation and making false claims about Amazon during this unprecedented health and economic crisis.”

The spokesperson continued that protective gear, temperature checks and increased pay are “standard across our Amazon and Whole Food Market networks already.”

Workers at the companies have been protesting and striking in recent weeks, calling for a series of worker protections including hazard pay, accessible sick leave and protective equipment.

Friday will be the first time they coordinate that activism.

We are only essential as our health and for that reason we have decided to demonstrate our civil rights on May Day, International Workers Day,” the organizers wrote.

Instacart workers first walked off the job on March 30.

Soon after, the grocery delivery company promised to provide shoppers with face masks and hand sanitizer.

Instacart shoppers have said that there have been delays getting the protective gear which often ends up being damaged or otherwise unusable. The shoppers striking Friday are calling for better protective equipment, along with hazard pay of $5 per order, a default 10 percent in-app tip and extended pay for workers diagnosed with COVID-19.

Whole Foods employees called out sick soon after demanding guaranteed sick leave to employees who self-isolate, reinstatement of health care coverage for part-time workers, hazard pay and the closure of stores with positive cases. Those same demands are being made again Friday.

The Amazon-owned grocery chain has boosted wages for U.S. and Canadian workers by $2 per hour. It also promised workers diagnosed with COVID-19 or quarantined with two weeks of paid leave.

Shipt shoppers walked off with similar demands a week later, and are now reiterating calls for $5 hazard pay and an expanded sick leave policy that does not only include workers with positive tests.

More than 300 Amazon employees called out of work last week after a string of strikes at warehouses in Staten Island, N.Y.; Detroit; and Chicago where employees have tested positive to COVID-19 and fear the disease could easily spread.

The online retail giant has pledged to increase cleaning and enforce social distancing measures at warehouses, but workers striking Friday are calling for plants to be shuttered for two weeks after positive cases. 

Amazon workers are also calling for the company to extend the unlimited unpaid time off policy it has said it will terminate on May 1 until June 1.

Activists painted a street mural outside of Jeff Bezos‘s Washington, D.C., residence this week demanding that the Amazon CEO provide better protection of his company’s workers amid the coronavirus crisis.

Tags Amazon Coronavirus Instacart Jeff Bezos protective equipment Whole Foods workers rights

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