The tensions between workers at Whole Foods and its parent company Amazon continue to rise. First, it was just that Amazon was ruining the experience of working at and shopping at Whole Foods. But today, a group of current and former Whole Foods employees called Whole Worker (which isn’t a union, because Amazon will not let employees unionize) put out a public statement against Amazon’s partnership with Palantir, a company that provides data to ICE, “to show solidarity with our undocumented sisters, brothers, and siblings.”
The letter takes issue specifically with Amazon providing its web services technology to Palantir, which sells data to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the sale of Amazon’s own facial-recognition software, Rekognition, to law enforcement. These services are often used to deport undocumented people and conduct raids like the one that occurred at a food processing plant in Mississippi this August. Last year, an anonymous Amazon employee published an op-ed on Medium titled “I’m an Amazon Employee. My Company Shouldn’t Sell Facial Recognition Tech to Police,” and over 500 Amazon employees demanded the company kick Palantir off their cloud for violation of terms of service.
Whole Workers’ letter expresses solidarity with undocumented people in America who are seeking political and economic asylum, and “are fleeing from conditions created by destructive U.S policies, making it the responsibility of the U.S to welcome them.” The letter also notes “Palantir, in 2011, was involved in a plan to spy on labor unions and activists. As workers and activists actively organizing and unionizing, we see this as further proof that Amazon has no plans on respecting the rights of workers.” They demand that Amazon cease all business with Palantir and any other company “involved in the continued oppression of marginalized groups.”
This comes as more and more grocery workers attempt to unionize, and more people are willing to speak out against the politicians and billionaires who create the conditions where children die in border camps. “We recognize that expecting a company built on the exploitation of marginalized people and the working class to cease its collaboration with ICE’s deportation machine by way of moral condemnations isn’t enough,” writes Whole Worker. “Workers that control the levers inside Amazon must make this machine stop and turn in another direction.”