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  • Workers protest at Instacart, Amazon and Whole Foods, seeking health protections and hazard pay.

    Workers protest at Instacart, Amazon and Whole Foods, seeking health protections and hazard pay. | Photo: Jeffrey Levin @jilevin

Published 20 April 2020

"This is infuriating but it's also a testament to the urgency and importance of essential workers unionizing," The Atlantic's Adam Serwer said.

Whole Foods, the grocery chain owned by Amazon, has been using an interactive heat map to track potential union activity at its stores across the United States (U.S.), Business Insider (BI) revealed Monday, citing five people with knowledge of the matter.

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The news website reported that Whole Foods' vast workforce of more than 95,000 employees spread over 510 stores are being evaluated through a developed system showing how likely they are to join or form a trade union.

Dozens of metrics are used to calculate the unionizing “risk” including employee "loyalty," turnover, and racial diversity; "tipline" calls to human resources; proximity to a union office; and violations recorded by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration,” BI’s report said.

Other factors such as the unemployment rate in a store's area and the percentage of families living below the poverty line are also examined by the company. 

Results on each metric are then inserted into the map, a geographic illustration of the U.S. with red spots to indicate high-risk stores.

The news has enraged progressives across the U.S.

"This is infuriating but it's also a testament to the urgency and importance of essential workers unionizing," tweeted The Atlantic's Adam Serwer.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has claimed more than 40,000 lives in the U.S. so far, increased worker frustrations and led to strikes and actions as Whole foods and Amazon employees are more and more protesting inadequate safety standards and access to protective equipment at the grocery stores and retail distribution centers.

Whole foods and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, has already made US$24 billion in 2020 as the pandemic rages around the world.

Labor-tracking activities by large companies is a common practice in the U.S. where corporations spent at least US$100 million on consulting services for anti-union campaigns between 2014 and 2017, according to data from the Economic Policy Institute.

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