This week, thousands of Amazon warehouse workers around the country are planning to call out from work to protest the company's handling of coronavirus protection inside facilities. According to a report by CNBC, at least 50 Amazon facilities are now involved, and at least 300 employees have agreed to stay home so far. The employees are demanding greater safety protections for themselves through this COVID-19 pandemic.
The protest has been organized by Amazon employees and centralized online, through a movement called United for Respect. It calls for participants to call out of work "en masse across the country" on selected days throughout the week. The actions are scheduled on specific days coming up to reflect the staggered schedules of Amazon employees, who keep many facilities running 24/7. The workers have a few demands that they hope to draw attention to.
Hundreds of Amazon warehouse workers are threatening a mass "call out" to protest what they say is a lack of coronavirus protections. pic.twitter.com/3LCNWt1vTe— TODAY (@TODAYshow) April 21, 2020
First off, the workers are calling for Amazon to "immediately close down" any facility that reports a positive case of COVID-19, and to provide testing to all employees there, as well as two weeks paid leave so that they can self-isolate. They also want Amazon to provide paid sick leave and guarantee health care for all employees in general.
The Amazon employees involved in this protest are also asking the company to eliminate rate-based quotas during this pandemic. They note that working at the usual timed work flows "make hand-washing and sanitizing impossible," and are a huge threat to employee healthy and safety.
Finally, the employees are asking that Amazon commit to not retaliating to employees who speak out about their treatment inside the work place. While other Amazon employees have spoken up and made headlines, this is the first national, unified effort to by associates to demand better protections from COVID-19.0comments
So far, Amazon has declined to comment on the planned walkouts across the country this week. The company has repeatedly highlighted steps it has taken to protect workers' health, including increased cleaning schedules, supplying face masks and taking employees' temperatures. Still, employees say it is not enough.
The walkouts come on the same week that Amazon is facing heavy criticism for the way it treats employees attempting to organize or unionize. On Monday, Business Insider reported that Amazon's Whole Foods Markets are now using a heat map tool, which tracks employees in the hopes of spotting potential union activity. The news made waves on social media, as many compared it to a page out of dystopian science fiction. For the latest information on the coronavius pandemic, visit the CDC's website.