It seems working under the richest man in the world doesn’t have its perks after all, as Whole Foods, owned by none other than Jeff Bezos, has announced that they would cut the healthcare coverage of their part-time employees.
At least 1900 workers will lose their medical benefits to meet the financial needs of the business. Jeff Bezos is worth $115 billion at the time of this article’s writing. To put things in perspective, he just added $1 billion to his wealth just the day before Whole Foods announced its change.
Only those employees who work 30 hours a week are eligible for medical benefits.
A spokesperson at Whole Foods is seen defending these decisions by stating that only two percent of its 95,000 workforces will be affected. These employees will receive ‘alternative healthcare coverage options’ or asked to join as full-time employees for healthcare coverage.
Further adding salt to their workers’ wounds, the spokesperson went on to suggest that workers will continue to receive 20% discounts at the store. This isn’t much of a solace, given the sky-high expenses of medical care in the US.
Before Jeff Bezos swooped in with a $13.7 billion takeover of Whole Foods, the company was described as going ‘above and beyond’ the needs of its workers by giving them better pay, better packages, and other benefits that were unheard of in the grocery sector.
Jeff Bezos was quick to make new changes, including the elimination of stock options for many workers, laying off hundreds of in-house marketing members, and paying paltry wages. The damaging relationship between the grocery store industry and other hourly workers isn’t exclusive to Whole Foods.
It has become an integral component of exploitative capitalism in the US. Early in April 2019, thousands of workers from various supermarket chains including Ke Foods and Stop & Shop went on strike against low wages, deteriorating conditions, and poor worker benefits.
Whole Foods’ decision to cut back on worker benefits may end up catalyzing the worker’s decisions to unionize.