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Bernie Sanders Slams Amazon For Asking Employees to Donate Their Paid Time Off

Amazon boxes are seen stacked for delivery.
(Image: Reuters)

Amazon boxes are seen stacked for delivery. (Image: Reuters)

Amazon subsidiary Whole Foods' CEO John Mackey sent out an email to grocery store employees this week and among his six suggestions was an option for employees to "donate" their paid time off (PTO) to coworkers facing medical emergencies.

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  • Last Updated: March 14, 2020, 1:30 PM IST
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Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has slammed Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos for asking employees to "donate" their paid time off (PTO) to co-workers who have fallen sick during the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon subsidiary Whole Foods' CEO John Mackey sent out an email to grocery store employees this week and among his six suggestions was an option for employees to "donate" their paid time off (PTO) to coworkers facing medical emergencies.

"Team Members who have a medical emergency or death in their immediate family can receive donated PTO hours, not only from Team Members in their own location, but also from Team Members across the country," Mackey wrote in an email seen by Motherboard. Whole Foods also said that it will offer unlimited, unpaid time off during the month of March and two weeks of paid time off for workers who test positive for COVID-19. Sanders tweeted: "Amazon paid $0 in taxes on $11 billion in annual profits. But it asks workers to 'donate' their paid leave to others who are sick."

"Workers and taxpayers are expected to be generous. Corporate CEOs 'even during a pandemic' can be as stingy as they want," he added. Amazon-owned Whole Foods is a supermarket chain headquartered in Austin. "Considering [Whole Foods] is a billion-dollar company, I think it is selfish asking the retail workers to figure it out within themselves," a Whole Foods cashier was quoted as saying in the report. "The response from [Whole Foods and Amazon] has been quite poor, being a front end cashier I feel like we are the most exposed to the situation...Some of us have sick family members [whose] immune system is weak and [it] could be quite dangerous if they catch this virus".

Social media users blasted Amazon and its CEO over the report. "Remember when Jeff Bezos, whose company owns Whole Foods, said he was so freakin' rich he didn't know how to spend his money so, heck, he'd start a space programme?" posted Alex Kotch, an award-winning investigative reporter. "I suggest that Jeff Bezos donate 100% of his corporate profit to guarantee 100% of his employee salaries AND jobs. His employees are already bearing personal costa time for him to do what's right," another Twitter user commented.

An ex-Whole Foods employee said: "When I worked for Whole Foods a few years back, I called in sick with the flu and was told by my manager to come in anyways. I said that wasn't safe and he argued it was fine because he was there and he also had the flu (and was running the meat counter)". Whole Foods was yet to comment. "I used to teach classes at 3 different Whole Foods Markets. The employees work SO HARD there! They deserve their vacation time (which is NOT enough). Only sheer arrogance & unfettered greed would propel someone to even come up with this obscene scenario," posted Serenity Foods.


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