Whole Foods Is Reportedly Using a Heat Map To Track Stores At Risk of Unionization


According to Business Insider, Amazon-owned Whole Foods is tracking and scoring stores it deems at risk of unionizing through an interactive heat map. From the report:

The heat map is powered by an elaborate scoring system, which assigns a rating to each of Whole Foods’ 510 stores based on the likelihood that their employees might form or join a union. 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.

The stores’ scores on each metric are fed into the heat map, which is a geographic illustration of the United States peppered with red spots to indicate high-risk Whole Foods stores. The heat map reveals how Whole Foods is using technology and data to help manage its vast workforce of more than 95,000 employees. It also provides a rare look into corporate labor-tracking activities, a common practice among large companies but one rarely discussed publicly.

In a statement provided to Business Insider, the company said an “overwhelming majority” of its employees prefer a “direct relationship” with the company over union representation. “Whole Foods Market recognizes the rights of our Team Members to decide whether union representation is right for them,” the company said. “We agree with the overwhelming majority of our Team Members that a direct relationship with Whole Foods Market and its leadership, where Team Members have open lines of communication and every individual is empowered to share feedback directly with their team leaders, is best.”

“Our open-door communication policy allows us to understand and quickly respond to the needs of our workforce, while recognizing, rewarding, and supporting the goals of every member of our team,” the statement continued. “At Whole Foods Market, we’re committed to treating all of our Team Members fairly, creating a safe, inclusive, and empowering working environment, and providing our Team Members with career advancement opportunities, great benefits, and competitive compensation, including an industry-leading starting minimum wage of $15/hour.”