Will raising wages $2 help Amazon keep workers dealing with coronavirus chaos?
The coronavirus has hit Amazon.com and Whole Foods hard. The companies have faced unprecedented demand as consumers stock up on products to wait out current social distancing and shelter in place directives from various governmental entities.
The stress of meeting the needs of customers is being keenly felt by workers in the company’s warehouses and stores. A Motherboard report quoted an unidentified barista who works at a Whole Foods in Chicago who described the situation in the store as “post-apocalyptic” with associates “crying and having panic attacks.” The Whole Foods employee claimed that he/she had just gotten their first day off after working six consecutive days.
Earlier this week, Whole Foods and its parent company announced that they would begin paying workers an additional $2 an hour on top of their current rates. The higher wages will remain in effect until the end of April. Amazon and Whole Foods offer a minimum hourly wage of $15.
Whole Foods came under some criticism recently after an email sent by CEO John Mackey leaked out to Motherboard and other media outlets. In the email, Mr. Mackey asked employees to donate their paid time off (PTO) hours to fellow workers dealing with medical and personal emergencies. The same email said any workers who test positive for COVID-19 would receive two weeks paid off. Additional time will be granted without pay beyond the two weeks.
The grocer is also looking to reduce the stress on employees by closing stores up to two hours earlier than usual in order to provide more time to restock shelves.
Amazon announced earlier this week a recruiting effort to hire an additional 100,000 full- and part-time workers to help meet increased demand brought about by the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“Health and safety are a top priority with all of our roles and sites,” wrote Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, on the company’s day one blog. “We continue to consult with medical and health experts, and take all recommended precautions in our buildings and stores to keep people healthy. We’ve taken measures to promote social distancing in the workplace and taken on enhanced and frequent cleaning, to name just a few.”
- How Whole Foods Market is Responding to COVID-19 – Whole Foods Market
- Whole Foods Market Adjusts Store Hours to Better Serve our Communities – Whole Foods Market
- Whole Foods Workers ‘Are Crying and Having Panic Attacks’ – Motherboard/Vice
- Whole Foods Suggests That Workers Share Paid Time Off During Coronavirus – Motherboard/Vice
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Amazon and Whole Foods come out of the coronavirus viewed as more or less attractive places to work? Do you think other retailers, particularly large chains, should be increasing pay to workers dealing with the various personal and professional pressures brought about by the coronavirus pandemic?