With growing rates of COVID-19, Amazon employees are demanding the company have stricter regulations regarding the virus.
Strikes across the US have emerged as workers have said that Amazon hasn’t met their demands:
- Stricter health regulations
- Closing facilities with confirmed cases of COVID-19
- Expansion in health benefits
- Clearer transparency on the state of current virus cases
On March 30, Chris Smalls, an Amazon employee, had led a protest and was fired. This, in turn, led to more strikes emerging.
Some Amazon corporate employees are planning a walk-out on April 24 to protest against the layoffs of workers who have spoken out on the company’s failure to ensure safety to workers. Amazon has stated that layoffs were due to “internal policies,” as reported by CNBC.
Emily Cunningham was one out of two tech employees for Amazon that was also fired for criticizing the company on how they’ve dealt with COVID-19. Cunningham had stated on Twitter that Amazon has put themselves and the public at risk.
On April 13, Amazon stated to CNBC that they would begin to allow third parties to ship nonessential materials to their warehouses again. Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service that allows third parties to store their products in Amazon warehouses that then would be sent out to consumers.
Amazon had always allowed nonessential items for sale throughout the pandemic but faced shipment delays in order to get out essential goods first.
Since the epidemic, Amazon has hired thousands of new employees. The company stated in their COVID-19 update, “We continue to see increased demand as our teams support their communities, and are going to continue to hire, creating an additional 75,000 jobs to help serve customers during this unprecedented time,”
“Now they’re hiring new employees to add. I’m seeing a lot of new faces.” David Rosario, an Amazon warehouse worker from Skokie, Illinois stated. Rosario went to the Amazon warehouse in Chicago to show support for their protest.
On April 3, Chicago workers stepped outside chanting, “Clean it up! Shut it down!” Local news, South Side Weekly was on the scene speaking with employees.
Employee safety concern has also been an increasing factor among the business.
Rosario added that they don’t have masks to work with. Amazon sent out emails to the Skokie warehouse employees that they would have a limited quantity of masks to hand out.
The Chicago and Skokie employees felt that they didn’t properly receive information on the COVID-19 cases in their facilities. Tomas Uriostegui, an Amazon associate at Skokie stated that he had only heard about the first case of the virus from other workers.
Amazon associate from the Chicago warehouse Laccoma Scott stated, “How can we be essential workers, but our lives aren’t essential?”
Amazon posts to their blog on how they’re ensuring safety and help to their workers. The last post was made on April 13 stating, “We continue to evaluate all options to ensure the support of our teams during this unprecedented time.”
The company has begun temperature checks on its employees, as well as conducting daily audits of the new health and safety measures, and increasing measures of social distancing within the workplace.
Workers diagnosed or in close contact with COVID-19 will have time off for 14 days with pay.
Amazon employees are still encouraging their coworkers for the strike on April 24.