Amazon employees plan to strike work at New York site on virus concerns

Photographer: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg

About 100 Amazon.com Inc. employees at a New York fulfillment center plan to go on strike at noon on Monday, alleging management has been unresponsive to safety concerns and the spread of the coronavirus at the facility.

Employees are demanding that the Staten Island site be closed for at least two weeks and sanitized. The e-commerce giant closed a warehouse in Queens for cleaning after an employee tested positive, as reported by The Atlantic. In addition, they’re asking for workers to be paid during this time, as well as retroactively compensating those who had already stayed home out of fears for their health and safety.

Chris Smalls, a management assistant at the site known as JFK8 and lead organizer of the strike, has worked at Amazon for five years at three buildings in the New York tri-state area. Colleagues began falling ill after Amazon managers came back from a trip to Seattle, Washington, the initial epicenter of the virus in the U.S., according to Smalls.

He left work in the second week of March out of concern for his health. Smalls returned last week to rally support for a work stoppage among the building’s 4,500 employees and reiterate his concerns and recommendations to management.

“What are we waiting for?” he said he told the site’s general manager and head of human resources. “Someone to die?”

He says the company has not been transparent about how many employees at the Staten Island location have tested positive for Covid-19 and have taken insufficient safety precautions, including allowing one of his colleagues to return to work while awaiting her test results.

“Amazon’s inaction has left workers with no other choice but to walk out of an unsafe work environment to protect their own and everyone’s health,” said Dania Rajendra, director of Athena, a group that advocates for hourly workers and small businesses, and a frequent critic of Amazon. “Enough is enough.”

Athena is leading a coalition expressing concerns of the workers. News of the planned strike was first reported by CNBC. Amazon did not immediately reply to an emailed request for comment.

“People need to be held accountable, even Jeff Bezos himself,” Smalls said in a telephone interview. “These buildings all across the globe need to be shut down. We are the breeding ground for the coronavirus.”

Employees have taken to Facebook and Instagram groups to organize the details of the work stoppage and share stories of working conditions, he said.

Bloomberg

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.