Marcus Lawrence | 

Amazon, Whole Foods and Instacart Employees Walkout: Now What?

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Update: Lucky for us, Amazon, Whole Foods and Instacart employees are back to work. Learn all about what your Amazon Prime membership gets you, including deals at Whole Foods and free Whole Foods curbside pickup.

While most people are attempting to avoid contracting and spreading coronavirus by working from home, grocery and delivery employees are still clocking in.

Workers at Amazon, its subsidiary Whole Foods, and grocery delivery service Instacart, have walked out on their jobs this week in hopes that they can increase protections in a time of COVID-19.

You’ve probably got some questions . . .


Will the Amazon workers walkout affect deliveries?

When it comes to getting your orders shipped, the March 30 walkout doesn’t seem to have much effect. The strike, so far, involves more than 100 workers at a Staten Island facility — a facility that already has seen multiple people coming down with COVID-19.

Amazon has already had to close one warehouse in Kentucky due to coronavirus infections, but in a company of roughly 800,000, the impact seems to be regional, at worst. The Staten Island facility walkout would have a similar regional impact. With no official statement from Amazon, the impact is hard to measure, given that the online store was already experiencing delays from record demand.


What’s happening at Whole Foods on Tuesday?

Whole Worker, a grassroots movement of Whole Foods Market employees, has announced a massive, nationwide “sick out” on Tuesday, March 31. The group encourages fellow employees to call in sick Tuesday to protest Whole Foods/Amazon’s coronavirus-era policies.

As of Monday night, nearly 7,000 employees signed a petition to stage the walkout. In a company of 91,000, there may not be much impact to store operations, but it all depends on where the sick-out employees work — and how much the petition actually represents who calls in sick.


Does the Instacart Shoppers strike affect deliveries?


So far, it doesn’t look like it. Instacart hasn’t shown increased delays since the strike began; next-day delivery, which has been pretty typical these days, is still available.

Instacart said that as of Day 1, the strike has had no impact on the company’s operations — and that 40% more Shoppers are working this week than the week before.

With 250,000 people signing up to be new Shoppers within the last week — and 50,000 of them already starting work — the company isn’t worried about the group of roughly 15,000 Shoppers who have stopped delivering.


What do the workers who have walked out want?

The workers of Amazon, Whole Foods, and Instacart have the same complaint: They don’t believe their employers are doing enough to protect them against coronavirus at a time when their services are needed more than ever.

“Whole Worker,” the group of Whole Foods employees, released a list of its demands on March 29, which include measures to pay employees who stay home, and improved cleanliness policies.

Fourteen Amazon warehouses have reported at least one worker who has tested positive for COVID-19 — including the Staten Island warehouse — and the Staten Island workers have walked off the job to pressure Amazon to close their facility for a longer cleaning, with guaranteed pay.

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.


Will any of the pressure work?

Well, so far, pressure on Instacart has already forced the company to extend its 14 days of paid sick leave. The policy was set to expire April 7, but now goes through May 8.

The company has also introduced a bonus program, allowed full- and part-time workers to earn sick pay, given full-service Shoppers promotions, and updated the tipping function in the Instacart app. So . . . it’s possible.

But meanwhile, the organizer of the Amazon Staten Island walkout was fired by Amazon.


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