Employees at some of the largest employers in the country are planning a walkout on Friday, May 1 in hopes of changing their companies’ coronavirus policies.
An unknown number of employees from Amazon, Walmart, Target, FedEx, Whole Foods Market and grocery delivery services Instacart and Shipt are staging a joint protest on International Workers Day.
You probably have some questions:
Wait, didn’t this just happen?
Yep, about a month ago. On March 31, employees at dozens of Whole Foods locations, workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York City, and 10,000 Instacart shoppers staged a “sick-out” on March 31 to demand increased protections for employees during coronavirus.
Although more than 12,000 people signed Whole Foods’ “sick-out” petition online in March, the targeted companies said the protest had minimal effect.
This time around, more employees representing more companies are joining in, so it remains to be seen how widespread it is.
How widespread are the protests?
Hard to tell. There are no official estimates of how many workers will participate.
If operations are affected at these already-slammed companies, it’s expected that the impact would be regional, like the New York Amazon walkout was last month.
On May 1, the Target walkout is said to involve employees at 50 locations out of the more than 1,000 nationwide. That’s enough to make some locations uncomfortable, but probably not enough to close stores.
The workers are asking customers to support them by boycotting these various businesses on May 1.
What do the employees want?
The workers of all of these companies have the same complaint: They don’t believe they’re being adequately protected from coronavirus, while their employers are making record profits.
Whole Worker, the grassroots organization made up of Whole Foods employees, released a list of the changes they want to see, and workers from other companies are adopting it, too. The demands deal with paid leave, health care coverage, workplace safety and hazard pay.
Another group, Target Workers Unite, says they want to see masks required, a much lower limit on the number of customers allowed in stores, and prevention of “boredom shopping” during coronavirus.
Instacart Shoppers are asking for better pay, safety gear, disinfectant wipes, $5 hazard pay per delivery, hand sanitizer, and access to sick pay for at-risk workers and those who have COVID-19 symptoms.
When will this happen? What will it look like?
On Friday, May 1, some workers will let their stores know they’re walking out. Others are taking a personal day or a sick day. Others still are walking off the job once their lunch break hits.
At some locations, workers will stage demonstrations outside their places of employment, joined by union members.