Amazon.com Inc.'s AMZN workers at the company's Staten Island warehouse are planning a mass walkout on Monday to protest against what they call a lack of protection provided during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Anywhere between 50 to 200 workers are expected to participate in the walkout, Christian Smalls, as assistant manager at the New York facility, who is in charge of the protest, told CNN.
The workers are demanding for the warehouse to be closed and sanitized, and be paid fully for the time that the warehouse remains closed, Smalls said.
According to Smalls, Amazon kept the warehouse open with inadequate measures, despite a worker at the facility testing positive for COVID-19.
As reported by CNN, Smalls further alleged that more workers have tested positive than Amazon has publicly admitted.
"We believe direct communication is the best avenue to discuss feedback, and our teams onsite are speaking directly with employees each day to hear their questions and discuss options that are available in this ever changing environment," an Amazon spokesperson told CNN, adding that the company is conducting daily temperature checks at the facility to protect workers.
Smalls said that he sought the help of the warehouse general manager before calling for the walkout, but didn't get a helpful response. He further told CNN that he also reached to the Centers for Disease Control and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's office, but is yet to receive a response.
Why It Matters
Amazon had announced earlier this month that all employees whose job allows them to work from home should do so, but those working in warehouses and deliveries are required to be present physically at the centers for their work.
The company said it would provide two weeks of pay to anyone who has been diagnosed with coronavirus or quarantined by authorities as a suspected case.
In addition, the workers can get up for two weeks of additional pay if they have tested positive.
Those employees who haven't been infected and quarantined have the option of unpaid leave with no disciplinary action.
Coronavirus cases have been confirmed at least 11 Amazon facilities across the U.S., including at another New York warehouse in Queens, raising fears among other workers of being exposed to the deadly virus.
At least 142,106 COVID-19 cases have been reported in the United States at press time, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and New York is the worst-affected state in the country.
Amazon shares closed 2.83% lower at $1,900.10 on Friday and edged further lower in the after-hours session at $1,897.00.
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