- Whole Foods employees are reporting that their work hours have been reduced.
- This news comes months after Amazon – which owns Whole Foods – boosted its minimum wage up to $US15 an hour.
- The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union has leveled criticism at the grocery chain, alleging that the pay raise with a “bait and switch.”
- Whole Foods denied slashing hours as a result of the wage hike.
- In a statement to Business Insider, a spokesperson said that on average, full-time employees “worked the same number of hours in January and February 2019 as they did during the same period last year”
Whole Foods employees are saying that the grocery chain is slashing their work hours, according to a report from the Guardian.
And some are blaming the cuts on Amazon’s decision to raise its minimum wage to $US15 an hour in October 2018. Amazon acquired the organic grocer in 2017.
“At my store all full-time team members are 36 to 38 hours per week now,” an anonymous employee from Oregon told the Guardian. “So what workers do if they want a full 40 hours is take a little bit of their paid time off each week to fill their hours to 40. Doing the same thing myself.”
A Whole Foods spokesperson denied that the company has reduced labour hours as a result of the wage increase.
“Claims that Whole Foods Market is reducing hours as a result of increased wages are false,” the spokesperson said in a statement to Business Insider. “In fact, on average, our full-time store team members worked the same number of hours in January and February 2019 as they did during the same period last year.”
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) released a statement blasting Whole Foods and Amazon. Whole Foods in particular has been the subject of a longstanding unionization drive, CNBC reported.
“The reports of Amazon’s Whole Foods cutting worker hours is the worst case of bait and switch I’ve ever seen,” UFCW President Marc Perrone said in a statement. “Just months ago, they told the American people and their workers that they were raising their minimum wage to $US15 per hour. But now it appears that this was all a public relations stunt as they are now cutting worker hours – which is a cruel pay cut, plain and simple.”
This isn’t the first hint of backlash following Amazon’s wage hike. Business Insider previously interviewed 30 current and former Amazon workers. Some said that the resulting loss of monthly bonuses and stock options ultimately evened things out, while others applauded the pay raise.
“We are proud to have increased the hourly wage for all store team members, and we will continue to schedule labour hours based on individual store needs to create the best experience for our team members and customers,” the Whole Foods spokesperson said.
It’s not uncommon for retailers to reduce hours after the holiday rush. But the issue of cut hours at Whole Foods has come up from time to time over the years in Glassdoor reviews, even before Amazon acquired the chain. Glassdoor reviewers are anonymous, and therefore their individual statements can’t be verified. Taken together, however, these reviews can reveal certain patterns regarding how employees view a company.
One of the top positive comments lauds Whole Foods’ “great hours.” Another review, which was written in August 2016, features a complaint about the hours from a person claiming to be a Louisiana-based employee.
The reviewer wrote that while their store promised new employees “as many hours as possible,” hours were frequently “cut in half” after the worker completed their first week on the job. They said that the store’s turnover rate was “very high” because “no one can live on $US11 an hour and only 19 hours a week.”
A person who said they were a former employee from Oklahoma wrote in February 2019 that, “Sometimes they cut hours to save on labour, but it was only during certain times.” And in 2015, another reviewer from Florida claimed that their store cut hours right before Christmas, adding that “23 hours ain’t gonna cut it.”
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