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Amazon

Historic Union Vote For New York Amazon Workers Is Just The Beginning

In a recent interview, The Teamsters’ new president said that organizing Amazon is “vital,” as the company has “total disrespect” for its workers and their efforts to unionize to better protect their rights as employees. 

Money

Billionaires Add $1 Trillion To Their Net Worth As Millions Of Their Workers Struggle For Survival 

Throughout the timeline of the pandemic alone, billionaires in the US have collectively increased their net worth by more than $1 trillion. Many of these billionaire’s US workers, on the other hand, have been struggling to deal with unsafe working conditions that leave them susceptible to potential infection, and without hazard pay or any increase in compensation for working in a pandemic, many have been struggling for survival. 

Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO and founder, added more than $70 billion to his new worth during the coronavirus pandemic, bringing his total net worth up to $185 billion. Workers at Amazon and Amazon-owned grocery chain Whole Foods have spent a majority of the pandemic protesting against the unsafe working conditions they’re being forced to work in, and the endless pressures from management to keep up with the overwhelming demand. 

Several workers who have participated or led protests at Amazon over working conditions specifically have alleged that they were fired as a result of their efforts to receive basic level safety. Profits and stockholder shares for the company have increased by billions of dollars throughout 2020, however, Amazon only provided a small fraction of those extra earnings in hazard pay and bonuses for workers on the frontline actually risking their lives everyday to further fill Bezos’ pockets. 

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In fact, Amazon ended all hazard pay back in June 2020, and instead has provided workers with sporadic one-time bonuses. On average workers have seen about a 99 cent increase in their paycheck during the pandemic, for comparison, Bezos earns about $11.7 million every single hour. 

“It’s infuriating that we live in fear every day because of minimal efforts to protect us, while executives take in tons of money while sitting safely at home.”

An anonymous employee working for Amazon recently spoke with the media about the conditions, and chose to keep their identity a secret out of fear that they would be left unemployed and with no source of income. “What they considered hazard pay was just for show. We couldn’t see a difference unless we were willing to work almost 60 hours a week. Several of us had no choice because we’re the breadwinners of our family.”

Jessica Oneto was a Whole Foods employee in California who quit in October 2020 partially due to the working conditions management was forcing upon its employees throughout the pandemic. 

“They gave us hazard pay for maybe a couple months. It was only $2 and they literally took it away as the pandemic got worse. One of the biggest companies couldn’t afford to keep it up?”

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Elon Musk, owner of Tesla Motors, earned an additional $140 billion throughout the pandemic, making him the wealthiest person in the world with a total net worth of $195 billion. Workers for Tesla have been subject to multiple factory Covid outbreaks, and unsafe conditions brought on by Musk himself, who defied local shutdown orders by reopening his plants and resuming factory production. 

Musk even went as far as to threaten his employees if they didn’t also defy the state lockdown orders by sending out an email that implied they would lose unemployment benefits if they didn’t show up to work and risk infection. At least two workers were fired for not showing up due to the fact that they were immunocompromised and worried about getting sick. 

“While people in cubicles stay home to work, we can’t do that and we don’t get any hazard pay/ Nothing has changed. Musk can afford to do so much more and he doesn’t. I find it sickening to see how much Elon Musk’s wealth has grown while we take all the risks. All we get is a ‘thank you so much’ email,” said a Tesla employee at the Fremont plant who also asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. 

Another Fremont employee cited ongoing mistreatment toward Black workers at Tesla specifically: “Musk has not once addressed this issue in his workplace or supported Black Lives Matter. No hazard pay or bonus. They gave all regular workers their regular raise, but being that I’m maxed out at my position I didn’t get anything.”

As the old saying goes the rich get richer while the poor get poorer, and this global health crisis has truly exemplified that. The only positive that workers have seen come out of these obscene billionaire wealth increases is how much more it’s being discussed now. The power of social media has created a large conversation over how America specifically runs, and why it allows this handful of white men to hoard so much wealth while millions of Americans are on the brink of complete homelessness.

Amazon Building

20,000 Amazon Workers In The US Have Tested Positive For Covid-19

After activists have been demanding Amazon for months to disclose information regarding Covid-19 and their workers, the company revealed this week that almost 20,000 of its workers in the US have contracted the coronavirus. Throughout this pandemic, however, Amazon as a brand has been succeeding monumentally when compared to other online retail giants. 

Amazon has faced some major criticisms within the past six months of the pandemic in general. Labor campaigners and union leaders have alleged that the company is putting their employees in danger by keeping so many warehouses open despite individuals contracting the virus who’ve worked in some of these warehouses. 

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Amazon posted on their blog an analysis that showed the rate of infection among 1.4 million American workers was 42% lower than the expected rate of infection to come from a warehouse occupation. 

A breakdown of infection rates on a state-by-state level showed that the highest rate of infection of Amazon employees was in Minnesota where 3.2% of the workers were presumed to have gotten Covid-19 at their place of business; for reference that percentage is double the rate of infection for average individuals working from home in the same area. 

Athena is a coalition of US activist groups that work to campaign for large worker groups all across the country. Most recently they’ve been using their resources to focus on Amazon, and call upon the company to be immediately investigated for how strictly they’ve been abiding by health and safety protections for their workers. Dania Rajendra is the director of Athena who recently claimed the group also wants to ensure Amazon has been regularly reporting on the number of employees with Covid-19 as they’re legally required to do so. 

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 “Amazon allowed Covid-19 to spread like wildfire in its facilities, risking the health of tens of thousands of people who work at Amazon – as well as their family members, neighbors and friends.”

Amazon currently has a market value of $1.6 trillion with its founder and chief, Jeff Bezos, owning the most shares making him the world’s wealthiest individual. Bezos has claimed multiple times that Amazon has been investing “hundreds of millions of dollars” into its own covid-19 testing program as well as tracing efforts. The plan is projected to test 50,000 individuals a day at 650 sites all across the US starting in November. However, Rajendra and the team at Athena isn’t as convinced that Bezos will stick to his word based on his already detrimental decision-making and the fact that this multi-trillion dollar company is still paying its warehouse workers little to nothing to help them cope with the pandemics effects. 

“Amazon is, in no uncertain terms, a threat to public health.” 

Within the blogpost Amazon claimed that they would be giving their employees comprehensive health insurance and paid time off for any worker who needs to be quarantined; a policy workers have been trying to get implemented for months now. The tech giant will also be implementing new cleaning regimes and other safety processes to reduce the spread of the virus, however, after dealing with this virus for over six months now, many individuals are quick to criticize Amazon for their lack of concern over employees previously, and believe these new policies are more of a way to appease the public and make up for the tens of thousands of workers that have already been impacted. 

 

Amazon App

Jeff Bezos Returns To Manage Day-To-Day Operations At Amazon During Pandemic

As one could imagine, orders for Amazon have reached some record highs during this quarantine, and as those order numbers are increasing, so is the amount of warehouse staff walkouts/strikes against the trillion-dollar company and it’s billionaire CEO.

Amazon Building

Amazon Coping With Warehouse Coronavirus Outbreaks In Over 10 Facilities

Amazon warehouse workers are currently enduring a huge wave of coronavirus cases appearing throughout the various factory locations in the United States. According to media reports, at least 11 facilities have reported having workers who tested positive for the virus. The second that any warehouse employee has shown signs of the virus they would be sent home, however, that doesn’t discount the many other workers they could’ve come into contact with before they began exhibiting symptoms. 

So far, cases have been reported at Amazon facilities in Queens, New York, Moreno Valley, California; Jacksonville, Florida; Shepherdsville, Kentucky; Brownstown, Michigan; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Katy, Texas; and Wallingford, Connecticut. Amazon has closed some of its sites, such as the Queens warehouse, but overall the company has been trying to avoid mass closures due to the increase in demand and traffic they’ve seen now that most of its customers are in self-quarantine. 

The company told the media that it is taking “extreme measures to ensure the safety of employees at our site[s]. That includes regularly sanitizing door handles, elevator buttons, lockers and touch screens, as well as staggering shifts and spreading out chairs in break rooms.”

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Many Amazon employees, however, are still unsatisfied with Amazon’s overall response to the coronavirus pandemic, and many claim to be very nervous about getting infected. Amazon would be nothing without the hundreds of thousands of warehouse workers throughout the US that make sure all of the millions of online orders are seen through, so the company should be doing everything in their power to protect such an integral part of the way their business is run.

The additional cases will likely disrupt shipments and delay deliveries depending on the parts of the country that are losing the most employees/factories due to closures. This shouldn’t come as a shock to consumers, however, as most products on Amazon are in high demand at the moment, and have already been delayed from shipping. Essential supplies that are in the highest demand, such as toilet paper, are delayed until April, and thermometers are being delayed until May, to give a few examples. 

“Amazon is witnessing spikes in demand that are comparable to the surge surrounding peak holiday periods such as Black Friday, so in response [we’re] ramping up hiring. We’re boosting employment by 100,000 in the way that we do for seasonal periods like the holiday, when we need extra workers,” said Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president of global corporate affairs.

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Amazon spokespeople have also told the media that they’re doing everything in their power to put employee safety and customer satisfaction at the forefront of concern, emphasizing that they’ve implemented multiple social distancing policies when in a corporate office environment. However, warehouse workers claim that those policies don’t apply when you’re in tight conditions and locker areas that “force employees to walk sideways to pass one another.”  

Amazon recently claimed that any employee who is forced into quarantine will receive two weeks pay, and Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos recently announced plans to donate millions of face masks and other sanitary products to all of its employees, warehouse workers, and contractors.  

“Masks remain in short supply globally and are at this point being directed by governments to the highest-need facilities like hospitals and clinics. When our turn for masks comes, our first priority will be getting them in the hands of our employees and partners working to get essential products to people,” Bezos said. 

We need to ensure that all employees rights, health, and safety are being properly put under consideration when their employers make new policies, especially during times of a global pandemic. These are uncertain and worrisome times, but we must stay strong and continue to fight for one another, the world could use some peace.