A historic workers' strike is being planned for Friday, which is generally recognized as International Workers' Day. Dubbed "The May Day General Strike," employees will be made up of employees to some of the largest companies on the planet, which will culminate after weeks of protest over how those deemed essential workers were compensated in the era of coronavirus.
The strike will include employees from Amazon, Whole Foods, Instacart, Walmart, FedEx, Target and Target's delivery service, Shipt. According to VICE, The plan is to walk off the job on Friday to protest these companies' overall failure to provide basic protections for its employees amid a global pandemic. Particularly as these same companies are reporting making record profits. The event's lead organizer, Chris Smalls, was fired from an Amazon facility in Staten Island after staging a walkout on March 31 over unsafe conditions.
"It's more powerful when we come together," Smalls said. "We formed an alliance between a bunch of different companies because we all have one common goal which is to save the lives of workers and communities. Right now isn’t the time to open up the economy. Amazon is a breeding ground [for coronavirus] which is spreading right now through multiple facilities."
A spokesperson for Amazon issued a statement reading that they "respect people's right to express themselves," though the company objects "to the irresponsible actions of labor groups in spreading misinformation and making false claims about Amazon during this unprecedented health and economic crisis."
Smalls' claims, along with Amazon's retort, both echo what was discussed back in March when Smalls appeared on TODAY. "We're very low on masks, we don't have the proper gloves, all we want is for the building to be closed and professionally sanitized," Smalls said at the time. "I'm afraid to go to work."
It appears that Smalls has ample support, as organizers have met regularly online using Zoom to plan out the protest. "We're trying to echo calls for a general strike," Target employee Adam Ryan explained. "We want to shut down industry across the board and pushback with large numbers against the right-wing groups that want to risk our lives by reopening the economy
On April 14, Amazon had also confirmed that one of its employees had died from COVID-19. "We are saddened by the passing of a member of our management team in Hawthorne, California," Amazon Spokesperson Kristen Kish, said in a statement to Business Insider. "His family and loved ones are in our thoughts, and we are supporting his fellow colleagues."