Nine Democratic senators are calling on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to supply knowledge at the firing of workers who called for larger protections from COVID-19. In a letter, the senators cite 4 employees who had been fired after raising considerations approximately safety prerequisites on the company’s warehouses. Amazon has disputed that the firings had been retaliatory, citing other policy violations.
“Given the transparent public history of those four employees’ advocacy on behalf of well being and safety stipulations for employees in Amazon warehouses previous their terminations, and Amazon’s imprecise public statements relating to violations of ‘interior policies,’ we’re in quest of additional information to grasp exactly what those inner insurance policies are,” the senators wrote.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ed Markey (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NEW YORK), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) signed the letter.
In overdue March, Amazon fired Christian Smalls after he organized a walkout at the company’s Staten Island warehouse, JFK8. Amazon claimed Smalls used to be fired for violating quarantine via attending the walkout, however Smalls used to be most effective put on quarantine after he started calling for higher protection precautions, and other co-employees with a long way greater publicity to COVID-19 have been by no means placed on quarantine. A memo later acquired by means of Vice revealed Amazon executives making plans to smear Smalls and make him “the face of all the union/organizing movement.”
“These protection responses have not been sufficient”
On Tuesday, The Verge reported that a employee at JFK8 had died of COVID-19. a minimum of 35 workers on the facility have examined sure for the novel coronavirus, in line with signals sent to workers. different Amazon warehouse workers, each in California, have died of the virus. Amazon workers at over 130 facilities have examined positive for COVID-19, in line with indicators tallied by workers. the company has declined to free up data on infections.
“Amazon has closed a few warehouses for FORTY EIGHT hours for deep cleaning after employees take a look at positive for coronavirus,” the senators wrote, “however these safety responses haven’t been enough.”
The letter also cites the firing of Bashir Mohamed, a warehouse worker in Minnesota who referred to as for greater safety measures. Amazon stated he was once fired for safety violations and different policy infractions. Workers at other warehouses say social distancing tips are being enforced in ways in which target workers who lift protection issues.
Amazon also fired person experience designers, Maren Costa and Emily Cunningham, after their workforce, Amazon Staff for Climate Justice, began organizing an internet panel the place tech employees could listen from warehouse workers. Loads of tech workers therefore organized a in poor health-out in protest of the firings and warehouse stipulations. Ultimate week, Amazon senior engineer and vp Tim Bray resigned over the firings of whistleblowers.
Requested in regards to the letter, an Amazon spokesperson disputed that the firings had been retaliatory. “These individuals weren’t terminated for speaking publicly approximately operating conditions or safety, however reasonably, for violating—steadily many times—insurance policies, similar to intimidation, bodily distancing and more,” the corporate said in an announcement. “We toughen each and every employees’ right to criticize or protest their enterprise’s running prerequisites, however that does not include blanket immunity in opposition to any and all internal insurance policies. we look ahead to explaining in additional element in our response to the Senators’ letter.”
The senators are asking Amazon to specify these insurance policies and explain its process for terminating employees. They’re also asking whether or not Amazon tracks potential organizing at warehouses, as it does with Complete Meals, or files which staff take part in walkouts and protests.