Amazon workers plan walkout at NY site: report
Amazon workers are reportedly planning to walk out of a New York warehouse on Monday over the company’s decision to keep the facility open despite an employee alleging as many as five to seven workers there have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Workers at the Staten Island warehouse will walk out at 12:30 p.m., Christian Smalls, an employee at the facility leading the demonstration, told CNN.
Smalls said employees are protesting Amazon’s decision to keep the facility open, despite news of a confirmed case of the virus there last week. He’s calling for the facility to be closed for sanitation and for employees to be paid during the process.
He also claims more employees at the facility have tested positive than the online retail giant has publicly acknowledged, according to CNN.
An Amazon spokesperson, however, told The Hill that “these accusations are simply unfounded” and said Smalls himself has been placed on a 14-day quarantine, with full pay, as requested by the company.
“We have heard a number of incorrect comments from Christian Smalls, the hourly associate claiming to be the spokesperson on this topic,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Mr. Smalls is alleging many misleading things in his statements but we believe it’s important to note that he is, in fact, on a 14-day self-quarantine requested by Amazon to stay home with full pay. He was placed in paid quarantine out of an abundance of caution because we notified him that he may have had close contact with someone at the building who was diagnosed.”
The building has been cleaned and the company has “tripled down on cleaning” another Amazon spokesperson added in a separate statement.
Last week, Smalls told the New York Post that one confirmed positive test from an employee was shared with a small group of supervisors at a meeting, while the facility remained open for business.
Smalls told CNN he sought the help of the facility’s general manager, to no avail, every day for the past week before deciding to organize the walkout. Smalls estimates around 50 to 200 people could be involved in Monday’s protest.
“The plan is to cease all operations until the building is closed and sanitized,” Smalls told CNN, adding that employees are being advised to continue working until they receive confirmation of a positive test result. “We’re not asking for much. We’re asking the building to be closed and sanitized, and for us to be paid.”
Amazon confirmed there is a confirmed case of an associate with COVID-19 at the facility. The associate was last on site March 11, received medical care and is in quarantine, according to the company.
Amazon said employees in close contact with the diagnosed individual were asked to stay home with pay for 14 days in self-quarantine.
The company said it has also implemented preventative health measures, including enhanced cleaning and sanitation efforts and daily temperature screenings.
New York has the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., with 59,513 cases across the state as of Sunday afternoon, according to data from the state’s health department.
–This report was updated at 10:03 a.m.