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The representative of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., called Amazon Thursday “racist and classist” about a leak note indicating that the company was planning to launch a public relations offensive against one of its employees who organized a debauchery on the coronavirus. related working conditions in a Staten Island warehouse.
The memo indicated that the employee was “neither intelligent nor articulate.”
The story of Vice News, Ocasio-Cortez, reacted to the quote from the memo, which was based on notes from a meeting attended by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. It has also been sent to many people in the Amazon. He said the company was considering moving from its public relations strategy in defense of its efforts to protect workers to an attack on the employee behind the walkout, Christian Smalls.
“He’s not smart or articulate, and since the press wants to focus on us against him, we will be in a much stronger public relations position than just explaining for the umpteenth time how we are trying to protect workers, “Amazon General attorney David Zapolsky said, according to Vice News.
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Ocasio-Cortez, who is a member of the “team” of four first-year Liberal Democratic students and a staunch defender of organized labor, criticized Amazon for his comments, joining what was already a large pile of commentators and commentators. elected officials criticizing the company for its refusal to work with Smalls on its demands.
“Amazon’s attempt to smear Chris Smalls, one of their own warehouse workers, as not being” smart or articulate “is a racist and classist public relations campaign,” tweeted Ocasio-Cortez. “If managers are as concerned about the health and safety of workers as they claim, then they should grant all paid sick leave to ALL workers. “
An Amazon spokesperson, however, disputed Ocasio-Cortez’s request.
“It is not true. In fact, Mr. Zapolsky did not even know the race of the person at the time of his comments, “said the spokesperson.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, whose endorsement of the Ocasio-Cortez presidential campaign and two other “brigade” members, was also very critical of Amazon during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Jeff Bezos: the richest man in the world. Amazon: pays $ 0 in federal income tax. Workers: Unable to Get the Protection They Need, “Sanders tweeted in response to workers’ organization efforts at Amazon. “Greed must stop. I support workers at Amazon who are fighting for their rights. “
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Zapolsky continued in the memo obtained by Vice News: “We should devote the first part of our response to forcefully explain the reasons why the conduct of the organizer was immoral, unacceptable and probably illegal, in detail, and only then follow our regular conversation about worker safety… Make it the most interesting part of history, and if possible make it the face of the whole union movement. “
A statement from Zapolsky to Vice stated that Zapolsky was emotional when he wrote the comments, although he did not apologize.
Amazon had previously justified its dismissal of Smalls by saying that Smalls “had been found in close contact with an associate diagnosed with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and had been invited to stay at his house without pay for 14 days … Despite this instruction to stay at home with a salary he came on the spot [Monday], March 30, putting more teams in danger. “
Amazon has also defended its treatment of employees.
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“Like all businesses struggling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable,” said the company. “We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, triple the deep cleaning, buy available security supplies, change the processes to ensure that those in our buildings stay within safe distances …”
Smalls spoke independently, detailing what his efforts were like to protect Amazon workers in the Staten Island warehouse.
“I have been trying to educate the public for weeks and have received no response,” Smalls told comedian Jimmy Dore during an appearance on his Youtube show, published online Thursday, saying he went to Amazon’s human resources department in the first week of March. “I decided to work behind the scenes, I couldn’t sit and do nothing, I stayed at home everyday in my room, finding a way to get people out of this building. I called and emailed every department in New York – state department, the CDC, the governor’s office, the local police department, OSHA, I filed a complaint with everyone … They did not answer me… but at least I tried. I tried everything in my power to get these people out of this building and I still am. “
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for an investigation into Amazon over the dispute with Smalls. The Attorney General of New York, Letitia James too. Smalls told the New York Post that there were at least 10 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the Staten Island warehouse earlier this week.
Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia contributed to this report.