Amazon workers concerned about coronavirus safety threaten strike

Amazon workers to strike coronavirus fears

Amazon and Instcart employees plan to walk out over coronavirus safety concerns. FOX Business’ Cheryl Casone with more.

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.

Continue Reading Below

Amazon workers at a Staten Island warehouse say they will walk out on Monday to protest the ecommerce giant's stance on safety amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, Instacart shoppers are also planning to strike on Monday, saying the grocery delivery company isn't doing enough for its gig workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

WHAT IS THE DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT AND WHEN HAS IT BEEN USED?

The Staten Island demonstration comes after Amazon started daily temperature checks at the JFK8 fulfillment center.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
AMZN AMAZON.COM INC. 1,966.75 +66.65 +3.51%

Christian Smalls, who works at the fulfillment center, is organizing the walkout, although an Amazon spokesperson accused him of "alleging many misleading things."

"The plan is to cease all operations until the building is closed and sanitized," Smalls told CNN. "We're not asking for much. We're asking the building to be closed and sanitized, and for us to be paid."

More Staten Island Amazon workers have been diagnosed with the virus than the company admits, Smalls told CNN.

A man leaves an Amazon fulfillment center, March 19, on Staten Island, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

"[We believe it's important to note that [Smalls] is, in fact, on a 14-day self-quarantine requested by Amazon to stay home with full pay," an Amazon spokesperson told FOX Business. "He was placed in paid quarantine out of an abundance of caution because we notified him that he may have had close contact with someone at the building who was diagnosed."

JEFF BEZOS TELLS AMAZON WORKERS THEY'LL HAVE TO WAIT FOR FACE MASKS

Amazon said coronavirus cases at JFK8 were not related as the workers did not have contact with one another.

The Amazon workers are not unionized but appear to be receiving support from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

DESPITE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, COMPANIES STILL HIRING

"All employers need to prioritize the health and safety of their workforce at this time," RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement. "Unfortunately, Amazon appears to be prioritizing maximizing its enormous profits even over its employees’  safety – and that is unacceptable."

Amazon said the company wanted to hire 100,000 new workers for its U.S. warehouse and delivery wings in order to keep pace with rising demand for items including hand sanitizer, baby formula and medical supplies.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS

Source: Read Full Article

Amazon Workers Are Scared, Unprotected As Coronavirus Sweeps Through Warehouses

Earlier this week, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, were told an employee in the facility tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. 

Then they went back to work.

“After they told us, the building was just running as it has been,” said Terrell Worm, an Amazon worker in Staten Island and member of Make the Road New York, an activist group. “It’s like they didn’t even say anything; it was just business as normal,” he said on a conference call organized by Athena, an anti-Amazon coalition of groups, with reporters Wednesday.

Amazon workers are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, helping get food and necessities delivered to millions of Americans who are house-bound. Company founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, the richest man on earth, has said he’ll do everything he can to keep his employees safe.

But workers don’t feel that way. “To watch Amazon executives say they are protecting workers is infuriating,” one New England driver told HuffPost, asking for anonymity to protect their job.

At least 10 Amazon warehouse workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 as of Thursday, according to public reports. Employees say many more are likely sick. The company is not making cases public; news about cases have filtered out via warehouse workers. The company just shut down a Kentucky warehouse because of the outbreak, only after staffers protested because three workers tested positive for coronavirus.

Warehouse workers and delivery drivers say they lack protective gear like goggles, masks and gloves. And that they don’t have adequate amounts of sanitizer to wipe down their workstations and are working close together ― despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that recommend social distancing. Meanwhile, the amount of work is staggering.

It is very dangerous and scary. I’m scared for my own safety and the safety of my own community,” said Monica Moody, who works at an Amazon warehouse in Concord, North Carolina, near Charlotte, speaking on another call with workers and activists on Tuesday.

Workers are still gathering in groups of 10 or more, she said. And there are rumors that colleagues have tested positive for COVID-19. 

“We’re all freaked out,” said Moody, who is a member of United for Respect, which advocates for retail workers. “Amazon is making us choose between coming to work or risk losing pay.”

The pressure is on to keep working ― longer hours and at faster speeds. And while Amazon has unveiled a host of measures meant to cope with the pandemic, there are two policies that truly tell the tale: The company is offering unlimited unpaid leave to anyone who doesn’t want to risk coming to work. Meanwhile, workers who do come in are making $2 more per hour and are paid double when working overtime.

It’s a fraught choice. “You’re either getting a lot of money or you’re sitting at home worried about the bills,” said Jana Jumpp, a United for Respect member who works in a Jeffersonville, Indiana, Amazon fulfillment center and spoke on the call Wednesday. “The only choice we have is to take time off without pay or be exposed to this virus.”

Some of her colleagues aren’t as worried, she said. “I’ve had people say, ‘I don’t care if I’m sick, I want to get that money,’” she added.

Jumpp is 58 years old and has loved working at Amazon until recently, she said. Now she’s taking unpaid time off. 

“I’m scared to go back,” she said. “There is nowhere near enough protection in our facility; people are not given hand sanitizer, wipes or masks.”

‘They Push Us And Push Us’

The situation also appears dire for the company’s army of contract workers, including its fleet of drivers who are either independent contractors or who work for small local companies that manage fleets of vans and cars delivering packages ― under immense pressure. 

“We’re not social distancing,” said the driver in New England, who works for a contractor and spoke with HuffPost last week.

Drivers crowd into a group in the morning before they set out on their routes for the day. They’re not given sanitizing wipes or any kind of protective gear to stay safe on the road. And with business increasing right now, drivers are being pushed to deliver packages as fast as possible. 

“We’re being pushed really hard to do our routes. As many as we can. I mean they push us and push us,” the driver said, adding that there’s no time to stop for bathroom breaks or even to eat.

And, though this driver was able to buy some sanitizing wipes, there’s no real time to try to keep packages clean. “I try to wipe down the van and wipe my hands but we can’t sit there and wipe down packages.”

What Happens When A Worker Gets Sick

If a worker tests positive in a warehouse, employees in the facility are told about the situation, an Amazon spokesperson told HuffPost. But often, employees start out by hearing rumors. 

Stephanie Haynes, a United for Respect member who works at a Joliet, Illinois, warehouse, said that after hearing a co-worker tested positive for COVID-19, she and a few colleagues confronted a human resources manager at their warehouse. They were told to go back to work and that Amazon had checked cameras to see who worked near this person.

“We didn’t find out because Amazon told us,” she said, adding that she worked with this woman. “Somebody else who worked with her, as well, came and said something.”

Amazon says its policy is to send home anyone who works closely with an infected person. Haynes was not told to go home. 

She’s scared.

“I have allergy asthma. I have family at home. I have children at home. My fiance has diabetes,” she said on the call Wednesday. “A lot of people want to go home but they have bills they want to pay. … Amazon needs to do a lot more to protect us.”

In a statement, Amazon acknowledged that a worker in Joliet tested positive. “We are supporting the individual who is recovering. We are following guidelines from local officials and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site,” said the statement.

The worker who tested positive was last at the facility a week ago, the company said. Anyone who was in close contact was asked to stay home with pay for 14 days.

Amazon said it does not make cases public.

‘Amazon’s Paid Sick Leave Is A Joke’

Under Amazon’s COVID-19 sick leave policy, workers get 14 days of paid sick time if they’re diagnosed with the disease or placed under quarantine. But that leaves out the raft of workers who are immunocompromised and considered at-risk under CDC guidelines. It also leaves out the many, many sick workers who can’t actually get tested for coronavirus.

Companies with similar policies have faced a raft of criticism over their restrictions. 

Workers who can’t use the emergency policy are permitted to tap into whatever paid sick leave they’ve earned while working at the company. But many say they just don’t have enough hours saved up to take a meaningful amount of time off.

Amazon’s paid sick leave is a joke,” said Jumpp.

The company needs to implement true universal sick leave, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in a letter to Bezos last weekend.

“I am encouraged that you have recognized the importance of paid sick leave during the current crisis,” she writes. “However, I am concerned that gaps in these policies will leave many workers without the option to follow best medical advice when they are sick, putting themselves, their colleagues, and their communities at greater risk.” 

Warren is pushing for universal paid sick leave for all workers expanded beyond what Amazon is offering. Congress has failed to provide any kind of emergency paid sick leave to workers at Amazon. A provision in emergency coronavirus legislation passed last week only guarantees paid sick time to workers at companies with fewer than 500 employees.

‘This Isn’t Business As Usual’

“Much of the essential work we do cannot be done from home,” Bezos said in a letter to workers earlier this week, acknowledging the difficulties of the situation. He reassured employees that their safety is his top concern, while acknowledging the enormity of the crisis and the role Amazon is playing.

“This isn’t business as usual, and it’s a time of great stress and uncertainty. It’s also a moment in time when the work we’re doing is its most critical,” he said.

The company is now prioritizing essential goods ― groceries, cleaning supplies ― over other items.

Bezos tried to reassure workers that he’s thinking of their safety.

We’ve implemented a series of preventative health measures for employees and contractors at our sites around the world — everything from increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning to adjusting our practices in fulfillment centers to ensure the recommended social distancing guidelines. We are meeting every day, working to identify additional ways to improve on these measures,” he said.

The mask shortage is a known issue, Bezos writes. But, he says, medical workers come first. “When our turn for masks comes, our first priority will be getting them in the hands of our employees and partners working to get essential products to people,” the letter notes.

He points out that the company plans on hiring 100,000 more workers to deal with the demands of the crisis.

A spokesperson emphasized that the company’s policies are evolving along with the public health crisis.

The epidemic is clearly a breakout moment for Amazon. Workers say the level of work right now is similar to the Christmas rush. And they also understand that they’re performing a clearly essential service right now, enabling much of the country to shelter in place and slow the spread of the virus.

Still, employees say Amazon needs to do more. Not only do they need more protective equipment, but they say Amazon should proactively be checking worker temperatures before letting them start work, and that warehouses should be closed for cleaning after an outbreak. They also want real paid sick leave.

At this point, many workers have just stopped showing up at the warehouses. 

Worm, who works in Staten Island, says employees are coming from all five boroughs for their warehouse shifts, traveling through a city that is experiencing a heartbreaking number of cases and deaths and potentially further spreading disease. For the good of the city and the country, he thinks the company should just close the facility where he works: “This is New York City. This is the epicenter. We are in the epicenter of this virus and they are not taking it seriously.”

  • Read our live blog for the latest updates
  • U.S. Senate reaches a deal on biggest bailout ever
  • Health care workers around the world are falling sick
  • What to do if you live with someone with COVID-19
  • How to make a face mask that is effective against coronavirus
  • Sorry, but you shouldn’t go to your friend’s house while social distancing
  • Women expecting babies ask: Who will be with me during labor?
  • The HuffPost guide to working from home
  • What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.

BEFORE YOU GO


Source: Read Full Article

Amazon Prime deliveries delayed during coronavirus crush

Amazon cracks down on coronavirus price gougers

Amazon says it has already suspended more than 3,900 sellers for price-gouging during the coronavirus pandemic.

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.

Continue Reading Below

Some Amazon Prime deliveries will not arrive until late April, even though Prime shipments usually arrive within two days, according to a number of Twitter users.

An Amazon spokesperson told Vox's technology news website Recode that the delayed dates are necessary.

"To serve our customers in need while also helping to ensure the safety of our associates, we've changed our logistics, transportation, supply chain, purchasing, and third-party seller processes," the spokesperson said in a statement. "This has resulted in some of our delivery promises being longer than usual."

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from FOX Business.

FAKE CORONAVIRUS PRODUCTS ON AMAZON: WHAT TO LOOK FOR

The tech giant has experienced a huge surge in demand and decided last week to temporarily prioritize some product shipments, such as household staples and medical supplies, as novel coronavirus cases grow in the U.S.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
AMZN AMAZON.COM INC. 1,940.10 +37.27 +1.96%

Amazon said on March 16 that it is looking to hire 100,000 new workers with $17/hour pay for its U.S. warehouse and delivery wings in order to keep pace with essential sales.

SELLERS' AMAZON LOANS AT RISK AS COMPANY LIMITS WAREHOUSES

Amazon employees themselves have to wait for "millions of facemasks" to arrive to their facilities, according to a March 21 notice from Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, as warehouse workers test positive for COVID-19 in New York, Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky.

An Amazon Prime truck passes by the sign outside an Amazon fulfillment center, March 19, in Staten Island, New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Bezos has come under fire in recent days for keeping warehouses open without properly managing safety precautions, though it has encouraged non-essential employees to work from home.

GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE

"Much of the essential work we do cannot be done from home," Bezos' letter reads. "We've implemented a series of preventative health measures for employees and contractors at our sites around the world — everything from increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning to adjusting our practices in fulfillment centers to ensure the recommended social distancing guidelines."

"We are meeting every day, working to identify additional ways to improve on these measures," he said.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS

Source: Read Full Article

Jeff Bezos Praises Still Working Amazon Staff For Coronavirus “Vital Service”; Admits “Few” Mask Orders Fulfilled

“This isn’t business as usual, and it’s a time of great stress and uncertainty,” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said in distinct understatement today as the coronavirus saw more and more of America shutdown and confirmed domestic cases of the global pandemic neared 27,000.

“It’s also a moment in time when the work we’re doing is its most critical,” the world’s richest man and perhaps the most pivotal executive on the planet added in a long letter posted online Saturday.

At the same time, the ever expanding COVID-19 pandemic saw the multi-billionaire admitting today to the limits of his power & wealth.

The note from Bezos comes as Amazon’s hometown of Seattle has gone into lockdown, cases of the novel coronavirus have been reported in the company’s increasingly overwhelmed warehouses and stay-at-home ordered Americans have turned to the delivery service of the self-styled everything store for everything. – read the full letter from the Amazon CEO below.

Related Story

Oprah Winfrey Interviews Idris Elba About Coronavirus Diagnosis On New Apple Series 'Oprah Talks COVID-19'

“My own time and thinking is now wholly focused on COVID-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role,” Bezos told his employees and the world as health officials and governments predict a vast surge in coronavirus cases and deaths in the coming weeks. “I want you to know Amazon will continue to do its part, and we won’t stop looking for new opportunities to help.”

As business and facilities across the continent and the world are sliced down to every more and more pointed essential services, Amazon has become a grocery story, a supply store, an isolation necessity with its Prime Video streamer and the fuel of vast swaths of public and private data resources, to name a few. Which is another way of saying, as the federal government has floundered in its response over the past few weeks, Bezos’ power now rivals his wealth and his responsibilities exceed his bank balances.

With a lot of Amazon information already out there and a plan to hire 100,000 new workers to meet the buckling demand put on the company, Bezos copped to the fact that he is not able to truly protect his workforce, at home and abroad. Despite a mass order for “face masks,” Amazon is facing the same frustration that its customers are seeking protective gear – there is a global shortage of masks and short supplied governments are at the head of the queue.

“It’s easy to understand why the incredible medical providers serving our communities need to be first in line, Bezos proclaimed on Saturday in the letter first dropped on the official Amazon blog. “When our turn for masks comes, our first priority will be getting them in the hands of our employees and partners working to get essential products to people,” he promised, in what may be true but small comfort to those frontline Amazon workers in warehouses and out in the trucks.

A sentiment that Bezos seemed to implicitly acknowledge near the end of his letter today.

“There is no instruction manual for how to feel at a time like this, and I know this causes stress for everyone,” the exec admitted. “My list of worries right now — like yours I’m sure — is long: from my own children, parents, family, friends, to the safety of you, my colleagues, to those who are already very sick, and to the real harm that will be caused by the economic fallout across our communities.”

There are currently 307,277 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide with that number presumed to double and double again and again in the coming days and weeks.

Read the full letter from Jeff Bezos here:

Dear Amazonians,

This isn’t business as usual, and it’s a time of great stress and uncertainty. It’s also a moment in time when the work we’re doing is its most critical.

We’ve changed our logistics, transportation, supply chain, purchasing, and third party seller processes to prioritize stocking and delivering essential items like household staples, sanitizers, baby formula, and medical supplies. We’re providing a vital service to people everywhere, especially to those, like the elderly, who are most vulnerable. People are depending on us.

I’m not alone in being grateful for the work you are doing. I’ve received hundreds of emails from customers and seen posts on social media thanking you all. Your efforts are being noticed at the highest levels of government, and President Trump earlier this week thanked this team profusely.

Across the world, people are feeling the economic effects of this crisis, and I’m sad to tell you I predict things are going to get worse before they get better. We’re hiring for 100,000 new roles and raising wages for our hourly workers who are fulfilling orders and delivering to customers during this period of stress and turmoil. At the same time, other businesses like restaurants and bars are being forced to shut their doors. We hope people who’ve been laid off will come work with us until they’re able to go back to the jobs they had.

Much of the essential work we do cannot be done from home. We’ve implemented a series of preventative health measures for employees and contractors at our sites around the world — everything from increasing the frequency and intensity of cleaning to adjusting our practices in fulfillment centers to ensure the recommended social distancing guidelines. We are meeting every day, working to identify additional ways to improve on these measures.

We’ve placed purchase orders for millions of face masks we want to give to our employees and contractors who cannot work from home, but very few of those orders have been filled. Masks remain in short supply globally and are at this point being directed by governments to the highest-need facilities like hospitals and clinics. It’s easy to understand why the incredible medical providers serving our communities need to be first in line. When our turn for masks comes, our first priority will be getting them in the hands of our employees and partners working to get essential products to people.

My own time and thinking is now wholly focused on COVID-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role. I want you to know Amazon will continue to do its part, and we won’t stop looking for new opportunities to help.

There is no instruction manual for how to feel at a time like this, and I know this causes stress for everyone. My list of worries right now — like yours I’m sure — is long: from my own children, parents, family, friends, to the safety of you, my colleagues, to those who are already very sick, and to the real harm that will be caused by the economic fallout across our communities.

Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones. I know that we’re going to get through this, together.

Jeff

Source: Read Full Article