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.”
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.
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.