Amazon is ‘destroying Whole Foods jobs’, workers’ group says

One of the biggest worker unions in the US is protesting Amazon‘s acquisition of Whole Foods, saying the deal is a threat to American jobs.

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents 1.3 million retail workers, sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission on Monday calling for an investigation into the acquisition.

“Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods is not about improving customer service, products or choice,” Matt Perrone, the union’s president, wrote in the letter. “It is about destroying Whole Foods jobs through Amazon-style automation. We strongly urge the FTC to carefully review this merger.”

Perrone called Amazon a “retail monopoly that threatens every corner of our nation’s economy,” and said its push into the grocery industry will result in mass supermarket closures.

“Regardless of whether Amazon has an actual Whole Foods grocery store near a competitor, their online model and size allows them to unfairly compete with every single grocery store in the nation,” he wrote.

Perrone also takes a direct shot at Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

“Amazon’s online business model is built on a brutal foundation of automation to cut costs,” he wrote. “If this merger proceeds, it could impact thousands of Whole Foods workers’ jobs simply for the sake of enriching one of the nation’s wealthiest individuals — Jeff Bezos.”

In response, Amazon told the Washington Post that it doesn’t plan to cut jobs as a result of the deal.

“No job reductions are planned as a result of the deal,” a company spokesman said.

US grocery market

Amazon commands about 0.2% of the US grocery market, compared to Whole Foods’ share of 1.4%. By comparison, Walmart and its warehouse chain, Sam’s Club, account for more than a fifth of the grocery market share.

The rest of the market is highly fragmented and split between dozens of other players, including Kroger (10%), Albertsons (5.2%) and Costco (4.2%).

The FTC is responsible for reviewing transactions affecting US commerce that are worth at least $US78 million, and through legal action, they can try to prohibit deals that could hamper competition.