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Whole Foods wants workers to help pay some colleagues’ leave during coronavirus — as Amazon corporate offers two weeks paid leave

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UPDATE: A statement from an Amazon spokesperson further clarifies this story, as well as Whole Foods’ corporate policy on paid time off during the coronavirus outbreak:

This is a longstanding Whole Foods Market program from prior to the acquisition. Amazon is matching all funds to the Whole Foods Fund since the acquisition to support the team needs during this unprecedented event, and all Whole Foods team members have access to the 2-weeks paid time off related to coronavirus that was announced for all Amazon employees.

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Following is the original story syndicated from Common Dreams:

“Absolute bullsh*t. With the amount Jeff Bezos makes in one day, he could shut stores down and pay employees to stay safe.”

When progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders say “now is the time for solidarity” amid the coronavirus outbreak, they likely do not mean that employees of Whole Foods—owned by the world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos—should be asked to give their own accrued paid sick days to their co-workers who have either contracted the deadly virus or been forced to take time out of work because of what is now a global pandemic.

But that is exactly what executives with the grocery chain are asking its employers to do, even though Bezos’ could effectively give them unlimited paid sick leave during the current national emergency without barely a scratch in his bank account.

In a letter sent to employees earlier this week, Whole Foods CEO John Mackey explained that one of the options available to workers was for them to “donate” their “paid time off” (pto) days to a pool that other workers could draw from.

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Journalist Lauren Kaori Gurley, who broke the story with reporting for Motherboard, notes that “as a subsidiary of Amazon, the world’s biggest company, Whole Foods could easily afford to pay its hourly employees for sick days taken during the coronavirus outbreak without breaking the bank. Instead, the company has put the onus back on workers, and they’re not happy about it.”

In Mackey’s letter reviewed by Motherboard, the executive stated: “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.”

Though such labor practices are not unusual—with workers in various sectors and industries pooling accumulated sick leave for a colleague experiencing a long-term illness—doing so in the face of a global pandemic, in which all members of society are equally at heightened risk, the move was seen by critics as shortsighted, tone deaf, and cruel. The fabulous wealth of Bezos only increased the ire for many.

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“Whole Foods is owned by Amazon whose CEO and biggest shareholder is the world’s richest man,” tweeted progressive media critic and journalist Adam Johnson.

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“Runaway capitalism is when Whole Foods suggests employees trade vacation time to address coronavirus rather than offer paid leave, all while the CEO rakes in ~$15 million a year in stocks, benefits, and more,” said Trish Zornio, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate in Colorado this year.

“You’ve got the richest man in the world asking people who are living paycheck to paycheck to donate to each other,” Matthew Hunt, a former Whole Foods employee who led a drive to unionize Whole Foods workers, told Motherboard. “That’s absolute bullshit. With the amount Jeff Bezos makes in one day, he could shut stores down and pay employees to stay safe.”

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‘Outrageous and criminal behavior’: Internet blows up at graphic video of Buffalo Police pushing over an elderly man

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On Thursday, footage emerged of police in Buffalo, New York pushing an elderly man to the ground, and refusing to help him as he lay bleeding profusely from a head injury.

The footage triggered immediate outrage on social media.

Horrible. I pray he’s ok. https://t.co/wL2gcNeAIT

— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) June 5, 2020

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WATCH: Protester bled from his ear after being shoved by police — cops say he ‘tripped’

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SHocking video from Buffalo, New York was posted online on Thursday after a large group of police confronted a lone protester -- and then violently shoved him.

"Shortly after Buffalo’s curfew started, city police and State Police swept through the area of Niagara Square directly in front of City Hall to clear the area where a protest was finishing. An unidentified, older man was hit shoved by two officers in the line. The man lost his balance and fell to the pavement, audibly hitting his head with blood running out from under his head," WBFO-TV reports.

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Trump aides are compiling candidates to replace Mark Esper if Trump decides to fire him: report

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On Thursday, Politico reported that although Defense Secretary Mark Esper's job appears safe for now, aides to President Donald Trump are compiling a list of potential nominees to replace him if the president changes his mind and decides to fire him.

"An administration official and two people close to the White House say staffers in recent days have pulled together a list of possible candidates for Defense secretary if Trump does choose to fire Esper," reported Lara Seligman, Daniel Lippman, and Meridith McGraw. "At the top of that list is Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, who was Esper’s No. 2 before taking the Army job last summer, the people said. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), an outspoken Trump ally who has previously been considered for the position, is also in the mix, according to one of the people."

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