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Article

13 Apr 2020

Author:
Chris Smalls, The Guardian

Commentary: Dear Jeff Bezos, instead of firing me, protect your workers from coronavirus

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I have worked at Amazon for five years... [u]ntil I was fired last week from the Staten Island warehouse in New York City... At the beginning of March, before the first confirmed case of coronavirus at the facility, I noticed people were getting sick... I told HR... We need to quarantine the building... Management disagreed and assured me they were “following CDC guidelines”... Amazon has imposed mandatory overtime to keep up with the demand of everyone ordering online. The result is that Amazon employees are going to work sick as dogs just so they can earn $2 per hour on top of their regular pay.

... [After I was informed about the first case]... We went to the general manager’s office to demand that the building be closed down so it could be sanitized. We also said we wanted to be paid during the duration of that time. Another demand of ours was that people who can’t go to work because of underlying health conditions be paid... Because Amazon was so unresponsive, I and other employees who felt the same way decided to stage a walkout and alert the media to what’s going on... [A] few days before the walkout, Amazon told me they wanted to put me on “medical quarantine” because I had interacted with someone who was sick. It made no sense because they weren’t putting other people on quarantine. I believe they targeted me because the spotlight is on me.

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