Amazon employees plan virtual walkout following recent layoffs

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Illustration to the article titled Amazon employees plan virtual walkout on layoffs critical of warehouse conditions

Photo: Getty

Amazon workers are planning organized action for a “disease” to protest the recent dismissal of two employees who raised concerns about working conditions in the company’s warehouses and the lack of protection for workers on the frontline of the coronavirus pandemic.

Amazon employees for Climate Justice announced this week that it was asking employees to call the sick on Friday April 24 after Amazon ended blunt criticism of Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, both of whom were members of the group. Oce Friday, AECJ will host a livestream with Cunningham and Costa as well as warehouse workers who will share their experiences of working at Amazon facilities during the coronavirus crisis. In one blog post Regarding the action, AECJ wrote that the layoffs were a “gross abuse of power”.

An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on the walkouts other than providing a statement about the layoffs.

“We support the right of every employee to criticize the working conditions of their employer, but that does not come with general immunity from all internal policies,” said the spokesperson. “We have fired these employees for repeatedly violating internal policies.”

The AECJ made several requests to Amazon as part of the organized effort. In addition to calling on Amazon to reinstate the voluntary workers it has dismissed, the group is asking the company to change its external communications policies; make permanent improvements to the workplace in terms of warehouse conditions, fairness and compensation; and publicly disclose its covid-19 case tracking protocols among its warehouse workers.

The group is also asking Amazon to engage in climate-related initiatives, including committing to zero emissions by 2030, as well as demanding community benefit agreements for clean air and good opportunities. employment in the company. Finally, the group is asking Amazon to incorporate racial equity impact assessments into business decisions.

Prior to their termination, which was reported by the Washington Post earlier this week, Cunningham and Costa publicly criticized Amazon’s warehouse conditions – which have separately under fire by American lawmakers who say that Amazon should take far more precautions to protect its employees than it currently does. Amazon policies prohibit employees from talking about the company without management approval, the Post said. At the time, the two workers said the newspaper ended their criticism of the company.

Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, Amazon sacked several employees who publicly lambasted the company over the conditions of its facilities. Among these layoffs was Chris Smalls, a JFK8 facility manager at Staten Island who helped lead a demonstration On the question.

In a disclosed internal memo obtained by Vice News Earlier this month, Amazon General cOfficer David Zapolsky detailed an apparent smear campaign against Smalls. In the memo, Zapolsky wrote that Smalls was “not smart or articulate, and since the press wants to focus on us against him, we will be in a much more public relations position than explaining just for the umpteenth time how we are trying to protect workers. ”

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