Amazon workers at a Staten Island, New York warehouse walked off the job for the second time in the past two weeks yesterday, citing major health concerns due to potential COVID-19 exposure.
Workers say at least 25 warehouse workers have tested positive for the coronavirus. Workers are asking for paid sick leave while Amazon closes its facilities to allow for proper sanitization. Amazon does not provide hourly workers with paid sick leave but has said workers with a Covid-19 diagnosis will be eligible for sick pay.
“Of the more than 5,000 employees at our Staten Island fulfillment center, less than 10 people participated in today’s demonstration – half of whom were not Amazon employees,” Amazon said in a statement.
“Like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable,” Amazon spokeswoman Rachael Lighty said. “We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available and changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances.”
Amazon has implemented hand sanitizer and washing stations throughout their warehouses and are continuously disinfecting and sanitizing the warehouses to ensure the safety of their workers. Amazon workers are saying this is not enough.
Christopher Smalls, the Amazon Assistant Manager who organized a previous walkout at this location made National headlines after being fired, reportedly for violating Amazon’s social distancing guidelines. Leaked internal emails told a different story
Smalls was the subject of a leaked Amazon memo last week, in which company general counsel David Zapolsky wrote that the assistant manager is “not smart, or articulate, and to the extent the press wants to focus on us versus him, we will be in a much stronger PR position,” according to multiple reports.
Staff at an Amazon delivery facility in Chicago, Illinois protested Saturday, looking for more protections as they work. Although Amazon will not release the total number of COVID cases, local news reports reveal over 30 distribution centers with confirmed cases in the United States