Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Betty Bailey of SEIU Local 1 protests with Whole Foods Market employees and other union activists outside a Whole Foods Market store on July 31, 2013 in Chicago.

Betty Bailey of SEIU Local 1 protests with Whole Foods Market employees and other union activists outside a Whole Foods Market store on July 31, 2013 in Chicago. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

'Minority Report Union-Busting' Tactics at Whole Foods Decried Following Reporting on Company's Labor Activism Heat Map

The company, which is owned by Amazon, uses factors like race, turnover, and "loyalty" to determine each store's score. 

Eoin Higgins

Progressives on Monday criticized Whole Foods, the grocery chain owned by Amazon, for using a heat map to track potential union activity at its stores across the U.S.—relying on data around racial diversity, "loyalty," and  labor complaints as indicators that affect how the corporation scores the sites.

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

Business Insider's Hayley Peterson on Monday broke the "legitimately explosive news" of the heat map and scoring system being used at the company's 510 stores nationwide. 

According to Peterson's reporting:

The stores' individual risk scores are calculated from more than two dozen metrics, 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.

The map also tracks local economic and demographic factors such as the unemployment rate in a store's location and the percentage of families in the area living below the poverty line.

Whole Foods and Amazon have resisted unionization efforts even as the coronavirus pandemic has amped up worker frustrations and led to strikes and actions around the country. Workers are increasingly fed up with inadequate safety standards and access to protective equipment at the essential grocery stores and retail distribution centers.

As Common Dreams reported on April 15, Whole Foods and Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, has already made $24 billion in 2020 as the pandemic rages around the country and the world.

Progressives reacted to the news of the heat map with outrage, with Vice reporter Ashwin Rodrigues referring to the tactic as "minority report union busting."

Journalist Ben Norton on Twitter echoed the apocalyptic fiction theme.

"We are living in a real-life dystopia," said Norton, adding, "This is some evil science fiction shit."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Peace Advocates Sound Warnings as Progressive Lawmakers Go All-In for $40 Billion Ukraine War Package

"Russia's invasion of Ukraine must be condemned," says one activist. "But the administration has been telegraphing for weeks that its war aims now go well beyond defending Ukraine."

Brett Wilkins ·


Oklahoma Lawmakers Pass Strictest US Abortion Ban While Roe Still Stands

Reproductive rights supporters vowed to fight against the ban that begins at fertilization and, like legislation in Texas, "creates a bounty-hunting scheme" for enforcement.

Jessica Corbett ·


Judy Blume, Mo Willems Among 1,300 Children's Authors to Condemn 'Wave of Book Suppression'

"Reading stories that reflect the diversity of our world builds empathy and respect for everyone's humanity."

Kenny Stancil ·


Now Do Windfall Tax, Say Climate Groups After Passage of Big Oil Price Gouging Bill

"Voters will reward politicians who stand up for people, not polluters," said one campaigner, "and taxing windfall profits is wildly popular in every part of the country."

Brett Wilkins ·


Ocasio-Cortez: Maloney Should Quit DCCC Post If He Runs Against Mondaire Jones

"It's completely inappropriate" for Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney to be in charge of the House Democrats' campaign arm "if he's going to challenge another member," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo