From Tuesday, hundreds of Amazon workers across the US will not show up for work this week by calling in sick. Starting today, 300 amazon employees have decided to stay home from work. Making this the largest nationwide protest effort so far against the company’s coronavirus response.
This comes as frustrations over the treatment of amazon employees during this coronavirus outbreak arise. Workers say that Amazon has failed to provide enough face masks for workers, and did not implement regular temperature checks as it promised and has refused to give workers paid sick leaves.
“We are calling out because Amazon is putting its revenue above our safety,” Jaylen Camp, an Amazon worker at a fulfillment center in Romulus, Michigan, told The Guardian. “We are not essential to them – they just think of us as numbers and quotas. They are not protecting our health”.
The employees say they will continue to call in sick until Amazon makes safety changes at warehouses. The protest also comes as Amazon is set to announce anticipated record-high quarterly earnings.
according to numbers from United for Respect, workers in over 130 warehouses across the country have contracted COVID-19, with some warehouses reporting over 30 confirmed cases.
The workers want amazon to “immediately close down” any facilities with COVID-19 cases and provide testing and 2 weeks of pay for workers during that time,
Amazon promised to pay workers who have been diagnosed with COVID19 or are showing symptoms, but workers say getting the paid sick time has been difficult and some workers come to work with symptoms,
They also want paid sick leave and want amazon to not retaliate against associates who spoke out. Workes also want the elimination of quotas that require employees to do a certain amount of work per hour. Workers say these quotas leave little time for workers to exercise proper hygiene such as ashing hand for 20 seconds
Amazon has been cracking down on employees organizing protests and even fired one worker who led the protest in New York and also fired 2 white-collar workers for denouncing the amazons treatment of warehouse workers
A spokeswoman for Amazon told the Guardian that Amazon has increased frequency of cleaning in warehouses in light of coronavirus and is encouraging social distancing.
She also said that employees with a fever of over 100.4F will be sent home from their shift and paid for up to five hours of their scheduled shift that day.
United for Respect says this policy has made many employees take fever supressing medications so they can continue working.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened an investigation into a Pennsylvania warehouse over worker complaints there, and the governor of Kentucky Andy Beshear, has temporarily shut down a warehouse in the state after a surge positive cases.