June 21, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
New York, NY – Leaders of U.S. grocery-workers unions reacted angrily to the news June 16 that Amazon will acquire Whole Foods for $13.4 billion.
Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, called the deal a “disruptive and destructive battle between two of the nation’s leading low-road employers”—Amazon and Walmart—that “will leave workers with fewer jobs and lower wages.” Amazon is widely believed to have plans to cut costs by replacing cashiers with self-service checkout, although the company has denied that. “Amazon’s brutal vision for retail is one where automation replaces good jobs,” United Food and Commercial Workers President Marc Perrone said in a statement. Neither company has a good reputation for labor policies. Amazon warehouses hire workers through temp agencies to avoid responsibility for wages and conditions, and “pickers” have to walk more than 12 miles a shift and have to wait unpaid to be searched before they can go home. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has said that having unionized stores is like “having herpes,” and the company has fired workers who tried to organize. Read more