UPDATE (March 31, 2020 at 9 a.m.): Chris Smalls, the former Amazon employee believed to have led the protests in Staten Island, has reportedly been fired. “Because I tried to stand up for something that’s right, the company decided to retaliate against me,” Smalls said. Organizers claim more than 60 workers participated in the protest.
Amazon workers at a warehouse in Staten Island have reportedly walked off the job in support of better benefits amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Warehouse workers are reportedly seeking increased cleaning in work spaces, more paid sick leave and other safeguards during these trying times.
Several workers at that Staten Island warehouse have reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. Nationwide, workers at 11 warehouses have reportedly tested positive for the virus. In response, Amazon has stated that they have “taken extreme measures to keep people safe.” However, employees at their warehouses and other ventures have not felt protected during this healthcare crisis.
“We are working long, crowded shifts in the epicenter of a global pandemic, and Amazon has failed to provide us with the most basic safeguards to protect us, our families, and the public’s health,” Staten Island Amazon warehouse employee Rina Cummings stated.
— Myles Miller (@MylesMill) March 30, 2020
Employees at the Amazon owned grocery store chain, Whole Foods, will reportedly strike this week. According to Vice, Whole Foods workers are planning a “sick out” for Tuesday. Whole Foods employees will reportedly call out sick in order to demand paid sick leave, free COVID-19 testing and hazard pay. Similar to Amazon, this movement was sparked after Whole Foods workers in three states tested positive for the virus.
“COVID-19 is a very real threat to the safety of our workforce and customers,” Whole Workers, the group organizing the demonstration, stated.
“We cannot wait for politicians, institutions, or our own management to step in to protect us,” the group continued.
First Instacart, then Amazon, now Whole Foods: workers are withholding their labor& demanding dignity.
When people work an hourly job, it’s suggested in many ways that you‘re unimportant or expendable.
Except you aren’t. Everyone deserves safe work, paid leave, & a living wage. https://t.co/JCC7A6RiUe
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 30, 2020
Alongside Whole Foods and Amazon, Instacart is also experiencing tension between employees and management. Approximately 150,000 employees of the grocery delivery service are also protesting in support of safer working conditions. Their movement has garnered the support politicians on Capitol Hill.
“Workers at Amazon warehouses, Whole Foods grocery stores and Instacart food delivery do some of the most important jobs in America. These wealthy corporations must give them the paid sick leave, safe workplaces, and protective gear they are demanding,” Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted.
These protests come as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to grow nationwide. As of this afternoon, there are more than 160,000 confirmed cases and nearly 3,000 deaths.