Essential Workers are Beginning to Strike Across the US
We are about a month into the stay at home measures implemented by the government, and online purchasing has been booming. As many people are no longer wanting to get out and contract the coronavirus which has taken the world by storm, businesses like Amazon have exploded in sales. The Amazon warehouse, which is located on Staten Island, New York, has it fixed to where the workers have to show up virus or no virus. Workers walked out and went on strike after lunch on Monday.
The workers at Amazon started to chant, “How many cases we got? Ten!” as they marched in protest for how the company is putting its workers at risk for the deadly disease. Ten workers tested positive.
It was told by workers, distancing is not always allowed, and the warehouse was noted for its unsanitary working environment. For once, Amazon is getting its noted publicity, but it is not in their favor.
One worker Rina Cummings, stated, “We are working long, crowded shifts in the epicenter of a global pandemic, and Amazon has failed to provide us with the most basic safeguards to protect us, our families, and the public’s health.”
Cummings added, “We are walking out to protest the impossible choice of coming to work at a toxic workplace and possibly spreading the virus or going unpaid during an economic crisis.”
Surely, this has gained national attention, and there could very well be a lawsuit involved. Workers are protected during these trying times as the federal government has stepped in to protect them. The laws were passed to have those who are at risk or those who think they have the virus to stay home without the fear of losing their jobs.
Amazon was not the only online company to face its workers going on strike. Monday, 150,000 workers for Instacart went nationwide with their strike. They are an online service that delivers groceries to the public.
Amazon had another group of their workers realize they could get involved with the strike the following day. Amazon store employees planned a “sick out” on Tuesday, demanding a safer working environment for all of its employees.
Most workers refused to give their names to reporters in fear of losing their jobs. They had a greater fear of the virus spreading from consumers and co-workers alike who tested positive for COVID-19.
Christian Smalls, an organizer for the protest against Amazon, told reporters he was terminated at the beginning of the week for “violation of multiple safety issues.”
Smalls sent out an email to those who helped organize the protest. The email stated, “Amazon would rather fire workers than face up to its total failure to do what it should to keep us, our families, and our communities safe.”
Whole Foods was another organization that faced ridicule from the workers and the public alike. A petition went out across social media, demanding the workers be protected. It stated, “COVID-19 is a very real threat to the safety of our workforce and our customers. We cannot wait for politicians, institutions, or our own management to step in to protect us.”
Many workers are running thin on hand sanitizers, gloves, masks, and everything needed to keep themselves protected. Some were even told to do without. The worry and fear came when the death toll and the cases skyrocketed in the US. Let’s face it, no job is worth our lives or health. A job can be replaced. We cannot. There is no excuse to put any worker in harm’s way just to make a buck.
A worker who works inside a kitchen, Brian Baer, a food and beverage director at a country club, said this growing epidemic has made his life very uncomfortable. He works at a Virginia residence community for seniors.
Baer stated, “The ongoing pandemic has made working in the kitchen uncomfortable. Does my co-worker have it? We use gloves and sanitizer, but sometimes we can’t stay 6 feet apart. Employees share their concerns with me, and I forward them to upper management. I support all the employees that stand up for their right to proper training and equipment.”
A company which represents workers put out this statement, “Amazon, Instacart and Whole Foods workers are sending a powerful message that it’s time to stop putting corporate profits ahead of the health and safety of the men and women who are critical to our food supply, and are on the frontlines of the coronavirus outbreak.”