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Watch: Cambridge Whole Foods workers stage walkout

Omriqui Thomas, 12, who has a list of about 80 people who she is encouraging to not shop at Whole Foods, was among the community members protesting outside the River Street Whole Foods Market store in Cambridge, in support of employees who wear face masks printed with the Black Lives Matter slogan.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Whole Foods employees in Cambridge released a statement Monday outlining their demands after seven employees were told last week that their Black Lives Matter face masks did not comply with the company dress code.

The statement demanded that Whole Foods “take real procedural action to join the anti-racist, Black Lives Matter movement.” It went on to say: “Small donations and words of encouragement are not enough anymore. Our demand is the freedom for all Whole Foods employees to explicitly support Black lives.”

Protests are being planned at several Whole Foods stores in the Boston area Tuesday.

Whole Foods workers walk out over right to wear BLM masks
Whole Foods employees in Cambridge staged a walkout after employees were told their Black Lives Matter face masks did not comply with the company dress code. (Shelby Lum|Globe Staff)

Three weeks ago, NECN reported that two workers at Whole Foods in Bedford, N.H., were sent home after wearing face masks that displayed solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. In support, Whole Foods workers across the country have been sporting Black Lives Matter masks.


Whole Foods released a statement last week noting that “[i]n a customer-focused environment, all Team Members must comply with our longstanding company dress code, which prohibits clothing with visible slogans, messages, logos or advertising that are not company-related.”

The company said that employees are given the opportunity to comply with the dress code and are offered new face masks, but will not be allowed to work until they comply with the policy.

Perhaps to cool tensions, Whole Foods sent its employees an e-mail Monday offering them a “special one-time bonus” for the month of June. The bonus is $500 for full-time employees and $250 for part-time employees.

“We join Amazon in expressing our gratitude for the remarkable resilience and dedication you’ve shown as you’ve continued to serve our customers in the most challenging of times,” read the e-mail, which was shown to the Globe.

“This is no longer about wearing masks,” the Cambridge employees’ statement read. “When we walk-out of work today, it will be demanding substantive change from the entire Whole Foods corporation.”