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Amazon Staten Island Workers Plan Strike Over Health Concerns In The Facility

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Warehouse workers in Amazon’s Staten Island facility are planning a strike, alleging the company is showing a lack of responsiveness to health concerns and the spread of the coronavirus at the facility.


Part of their demands is that the facility is deep cleaned and closed for at least two weeks. Amazon had earlier closed a facility in Queens, New York, for cleaning after an employee tested positive to the virus.


The lead organiser of the strike is Chris Smalls, a management assistant at the facility also known as JFK8. Smalls says he left work in the second week of March 2020 due to health concerns.


According to him, colleagues started falling ill after some managers returned from a trip to Seattle. Seattle was the initial epicenter of the coronavirus in the US.


Smalls is now rallying support for the over 4,000 employees at the facilities. He’s airing concerns and making recommendations to the management of the facility.


The union representing the workers alleges Amazon is prioritizing profits over employee safety.


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


Amazon workers Staten Island
Photo: Johannes EISELE / AFP via Getty Images.
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Amazon says it is working to ensure the safety of its employees. The e-commerce giants also say they are supporting the individual who tested positive to the coronavirus.


An Amazon spokesperson said:


“Like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable. We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available, and changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances. The truth is the vast majority of employees continue to show up and do the heroic work of delivering for customers every day.”


The company also says the individual who tested positive to the coronavirus will receive two weeks’ pay. It will also be implementing daily temperature checks for all workers.


This comes as workers of online grocery start-up, Instacart also planned to strike demanding protective equipment and hazard pay. Both Instacart and Amazon are having to deal with increased demand because of millions staying home to contain the spread of the virus. Amazon and Instacart also announced plans to hire several thousands of new workers to meet that demand.


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