National grocery chain Whole Foods, which is owned by multibillion-dollar corporation Amazon, is cutting medical benefits for hundreds of part-time employees, Business Insider reported today. The decision, according to the company, is designed “to better meet the needs of our business and create a more equitable and efficient scheduling model,” a Whole Foods spokesperson told BI.
Amazon purchased Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.7 billion, and the grocery chain currently employs roughly 95,000 people. Amazon, on the other hand, is worth nearly $910 billion, making it the third most valuable company on the planet behind Apple and Microsoft, both of which passed trillion-dollar market valuations over the past 12 months.
Despite running only the third most valuable company, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest person, with a net worth north of $115 billion, thanks to the sheer volume of Amazon shares he owns as the company’s sole CEO since its creation in 1994.
Last month, Amazon joined a number of other tech companies and Fortune 500 firms in signing a letter outlining the purpose of a corporation as something not just designed to return shareholder value, but also to serve employees and the community. “Each of our stakeholders is essential,” the pledge read. “We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.”
Whole Foods claims that the percentage of its workforce that’ll be affected by the cost-cutting measure, and therefore no longer eligible to purchase employer-provided health care, is less than 2 percent. (That equates to nearly 2,000 people.) One affected employee, who’s worked for Whole Foods for 15 years, told BI they were “in shock,” as the company’s benefits options were why they held on to the job.
“The small percentage of part-time team members … who previously opted into medical benefits through Whole Foods Market’s healthcare plan — less than 2% of our total workforce — will no longer be eligible to buy into medical coverage through the company,” the Whole Foods spokesperson told BI. “We are providing team members with resources to find alternative healthcare coverage options, or to explore full-time, healthcare-eligible positions starting at 30 hours per week.”
The spokesperson made sure to include a reminder that Whole Foods employees can still enjoy a 20 percent discount on groceries, which, it turns out, will not save your life in the event of a medical emergency. During the course of writing this article, which took approximately 30 minutes, Bezos earned an estimated $4.5 million.