Billionaire Jeff Bezos is facing sharp criticism from the left — and from some of his own employees — after Whole Foods announced on Thursday that they would be cutting health benefits for almost 2,000 of their part time employees.
Whole Foods issued a statement Thursday announcing that it would be cutting health benefits for approximately 1,900 of its part time workers. Previously, workers who worked an average of 20 hours a week for the grocery company were eligible for health coverage. The statement explained that workers would henceforth need to work an average of at least 30 hours a week in order to be eligible for health care coverage.
The company's statement indicated that the vast majority of its 95,000 workers would not be affected by the change.
Whole Foods was acquired by Amazon — which is principally owned by Bezos — in August of 2017.
The announcement prompted a wave of backlash against Bezos, who is generally considered to be wealthiest man in the world as of the date of the publication of this article.
Even though it is very unusual for any company to offer full health benefits to employees who work only half time, the move brought a chorus of condemnation from liberals, union groups, and Whole Foods employees.
Liberal publication Common Dreams blasted the move, quoting Boston activist Jonathan Cohn, who said, "Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world. This is disgusting."
Columnist Bob Bryan also blasted Bezos in a Business Insider piece, calling Bezos' promises "worthless" and suggesting that Whole Foods' part time workers should find a way to either make the government force Whole Foods to provide them with health benefits, or extract such a promise from the company via unionization.
Numerous liberals and union activists sounded off on Twitter about the move and were sharply critical of Bezos.
"The Whole Foods decision is not just hypocritical of Bezos, but also proves why workers should never put too much… https://t.co/unJNaetWAz— Fight For 15 (@Fight For 15) 1568420100.0
Jeff Bezos says he liquidates around a billion dollars a year from Amazon to fund his Moon base ambitions, yet cuts… https://t.co/OgALRniFON— Theo (@Theo) 1568451843.0
In a statement to Business Insider, a Whole Foods spokesman said that, "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."
Bezos has been a frequent target of criticism from the left due to alleged difficult and demanding working conditions at Amazon. He as also been frequently criticized by President Donald Trump due to his ownership of the Washington Post, which has frequently been critical of the president and his policies.