Whole Foods Market workers have claimed that since Amazon – which bought the chain in 2017 – raised their minimum wage to $15 last fall, employees at the grocery store chain have had their hours cut dramatically.
“My hours went from 30 to 20 a week,” one Whole Foods worker, who requested to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, told The Guardian.
Employees are claiming cuts are happening nationwide. In Maryland, a Whole Foods worker said hours for full-time workers were cut by four hours from 40 to 36 — and other stores have claimed regional management has forced them to reduce hours for both full and part-time workers.
“At my store all full-time team members are 36 to 38 hours per week now. 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 employee in Oregon told The Guardian.
A worker in California said the cuts have led to understaffing and some employees to “look for other jobs as they can’t make ends meet.”
Despite the reports, Whole Foods is denying there have been any hour cuts and said staffing is based on factors like seasonality and individual store needs.
In a statement to Fox News, Whole Foods said hours have stayed the same since the minimum wage increase.
“Claims that Whole Foods Market is reducing hours as a result of increased wages are false. 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. We are proud to have increased the hourly wage for all store Team Members, and we will continue to schedule labor hours based on individual store needs to create the best experience for our Team Members and customers,” the statement read.
Amazon was initially praised after announcing the move to increase minimum wage to $15 an hour, even though it also cut stock vesting plans and bonuses for its workers.
The Austin-based grocery store has been on Fortune’s 100 best companies to work for the past 20 years and has boasted one of the highest ratios of full-time and part-time employment among its competitors. However, after being purchased by Amazon, employees have been more critical about working as “America’s healthiest grocery store.”
“They’re squeezing all they can out of the workers. Amazon gives little notice whenever they make changes. When they rolled in the Amazon Prime discount, they only gave stores 10 to 14 days of notice and no extra labor to handle the extra work,” an employee told The Guardian in 2018.
Post-acquisition, Whole Foods workers moved to unionize. They created Whole Worker and sent out an email to employees in September 2018, urging them to join.
“There will continue to be layoffs in 2019 and beyond as Amazon aims to aggressively trim our labor force before it expands with new technology and labor models,” the email stated in 2018.
Whole Foods reportedly quickly began training management to avoid unionization of workers.