As the virus crisis worsens in the US, employees at Amazon and Instacart are planning to strike today.
Amazon workers at a New York fulfillment center are preparing to strike around lunchtime to call attention to the company's "lack of safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic," reported NBC New York.
The union that represents workers at the Staten Island warehouse claims Amazon is more concerned about profits than the health of its employees:
"All employers need to prioritize the health and safety of their workforce at this time. Unfortunately, Amazon appears to be prioritizing maximizing its enormous profits even over its employees' safety - and this is unacceptable," said Stuart Appelbaum, Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) president.
Around 100 employees are expected to strike around noon on Monday outside the Staten Island warehouse. They are demanding the facility be closed for sanitizing. Recently, the e-commerce giant closed a warehouse in Queens after an employee contracted the virus. We noted last week that a total of ten Amazon warehouse employees across the country have tested positive in March. The workers are also requesting all employees at the facility to be compensated during the shutdown.
NBC New York obtained a statement from Amazon:
"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 have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, 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 says that all employees who test positive for COVID-19 will receive pay for two weeks. The warehouse in Staten Island will immediately start temperature checks of employees entering the facility.
Workers for Instacart will also be staging a strike on Monday, demanding hazard pay and increased safety precautions to protect them from the virus. However, the strike will be nationwide.
Instacart's delivery workers are demanding hazard pay of $5 per order, freehand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes, and paid sick leave for workers with pre-existing medical conditions.
The whole debate of profits over human health is gaining traction as the pandemic ravages the Northeast.
Companies are soon going to recognize they are nothing without their low-income workers as many are starting to walk off the job due to hazardous health conditions related to the virus.
"This could be devastating." A number of workers for two delivery service giants, Amazon and Instacart, are preparing to go on strike. They’re demanding added protections from the coronavirus and a boost in pay because of a massive increase in business, @SamBrockNBC reports. pic.twitter.com/6zQpodtCf1— TODAY (@TODAYshow) March 30, 2020
Walking off the job and strikes could be the early beginnings of social unrest forming in the US. The Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned last Friday that riots and protests could hit major Western cities in the next several weeks.