Cambridge Whole Foods workers escalate pressure to allow BLM masks


Workers at a Cambridge Whole Foods are approaching every week of persistent walkouts after a number of workers had been despatched dwelling final Wednesday for sporting Black Lives Matter face masks.

In a press release shared with The Boston Globe Monday, the staff on the River Street retailer in Cambridgeport demanded that the Amazon-owned grocery store chain “take real procedural action to join the anti-racist, Black Lives Matter movement” and supply “the freedom for all Whole Foods employees to explicitly support Black lives.”

The group additionally shared a call-to-action online Tuesday asking all Whole Foods group members to constantly put on Black Lives Matter masks beginning Tuesday. The assertion notes that whereas the corporate manufacturers itself as supporting the motion, administration on the grocery store nonetheless forbids staff from exhibiting solidarity with it.

“We will not stop until Whole Foods recognizes its current hypocrisy and commits itself to real change instead of performative, empty activism,” the assertion stated.

Employee Savannah Kinzer additionally began a petition making the identical calls for Friday. It now has over 2,000 supporters.

Countless corporations together with Whole Foods have claimed support in the fight for racial justice by way of social media posts and press releases. The Whole Foods website includes a distinguished banner stating that “racism has no place here,” although it doesn’t embrace the phrase “Black lives matter.” An invitation to “learn more” hyperlinks to a prolonged mission assertion that by no means mentions race or discrimination.

An announcement from a Whole Foods spokesperson final week stated that the worker gown code forbids “clothing with visible slogans, messages, logos or advertising that are not-company-related.” The assertion additionally stated that staff are provided new face masks if those they’re sporting don’t adjust to the code.

Employee Kirby Burt told Liberation News, a month-to-month paper printed by the Party for Socialism and Liberation, that different gown code violations like masks with Narragansett and Red Sox logos had been ignored by administration for months. Burt famous that managers at the moment are extra strict on addressing these violations within the wake of the Black Lives Matter masks controversy.

Whole Foods staff throughout the U.S. have donned Black Lives Matters masks this month after two employees in New Hampshire had been despatched dwelling for sporting the masks. Team members from shops in Seattle and Philadelphia have held related protests to their Cambridge counterparts.

Some different giant corporations like Starbucks and Taco Bell now explicitly permit their workers to put on Black Lives Matter masks at work. Both corporations confronted related backlashes this month after administration reprimanded staff for exhibiting solidarity with the motion whereas on the clock.

Community members protested exterior the Cambridge retailer Sunday in assist of workers who put on face masks printed with the Black Lives Matter slogan.  (Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff) —Pat Greenhouse / The Boston Globe