Amazon Workers Plan Staten Island Strike to Demand COVID-19 Protections

Employees at New York's JFK8 facility are set to 'cease all operations' in an effort to pressure Amazon into closing the warehouse and offering paid time off.
Amazon Workers Plan Staten Island Strike to Demand COVID-19 Protections
Image credit: via PC Mag

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This story originally appeared on PC Mag

Amazon warehouse staff in Staten Island plan to walk out of work this morning to protest the lack of COVID-19 protections for employees still plugging away during the outbreak.

Personnel at the facility—where someone recently tested positive for the virus—will "cease all operations" until their demands are heard, management assistant and lead strike organizer Chris Smalls told CNBC.

In a statement to the news site, Amazon said it is "supporting the individual in quarantine" and asked that anyone in contact with them stay home with pay for two weeks. The facility, known as JFK8, remains open. "We are following all guidelines from local health officials and are taking extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site," a company spokesperson said.

But a declaration from on high isn't enough for those folks on the ground. Smalls hopes to pressure Amazon into closing the 855,000-square-foot facility for cleaning while offering all 4,500 employees paid time off. "Since the building won't close by itself, we're going to have to force [Amazon's] hand," Smalls said. "We will not return until the building gets sanitized."

"These accusations are simply unfounded. Our employees are heroes fighting for their communities and helping people get critical items they need in this crisis," Amazon told PCMag in an emailed statement. "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 [are] 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."

Amazon recently implemented daily temperature screenings at its Staten Island location, and has been consulting with health authorities and medical experts on how to handle building closures for deep cleaning. At least 13 facilities have reported cases of coronavirus. Smalls—who previously disclosed to management poor warehouse conditions and a lack of essential supplies—is currently on a 14-day self-quarantine (with full pay for two weeks) after coming in contact with the supervisor who tested positive.

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