Amazon workers fear catching coronavirus on job

Amazon workers fear catching coronavirus on job

Amazon’s vaunted “to-the-door” shipment model has actually ended up being a lifeline for millions of U.S. customers stuck at house because of the coronavirus But numerous Amazon employees say those exacting shipment needs might make them ill.

Drivers and warehouse employees at the ecommerce giant say they lack protective devices and aren’t offered adequate time to clean or sanitize their hands. Compounding such concerns are that staff members don’t make money sick time off– unless they present a coronavirus diagnosis to managers.

A minimum of 10 Amazon warehouse workers across the U.S. have actually contracted the virus, according to workers and media reports. A worker at an Amazon center in Staten Island, New York, evaluated favorable on Tuesday, the merchant validated. Amazon did not say whether the warehouse would be shut down, but two employees there state it remained open.

At least six more storage facility employees in different Amazon places– Queens, New York; Connecticut; Illinois; Kentucky; Michigan and Oklahoma– have actually evaluated favorable for the virus, according to numerous media reports Amazon closed the impacted Kentucky storage facility for 2 days so it might be cleaned; the others stay open, according to media reports and employees.

Amazon decreased to verify the specific number of workers who evaluated positive, nor which facilities were closed.

” I’m frightened and sensation like they’re trying to conceal health dangers from the employees. And we’re not being kept in the loop about our security,” said Terell Worm, a worker at Amazon’s Staten Island storage facility. He stated that after employees were informed that someone had tested positive on Tuesday, the building continued operating as typical. “It was just business as regular.”

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An Amazon driver named Ronald who works in Massachusetts said he has not been equipped with protective equipment beyond a single pair of gloves (he asked that his surname be kept since he fears retaliation from his company.) Other drivers wore masks they had purchased themselves, he stated.

” I do not feel so well protected,” Ronald told CBS MoneyWatch” It refers health. We’re out in the streets, walking around, providing packages– all they want is for you to get the plan there.”

Monica Moody, an arranging worker at an Amazon storage facility in Concord, North Carolina, stated personnel weren’t offered with protective equipment like N95 respirator masks and latex gloves, and that they lacked products to sterilize their workstations.

” Associates are informed to clean down our stations, however offered simply a number of wipes. We’re praying that the person prior to us did it right,” she said.

Her storage facility likewise isn’t taking suitable distancing procedures, she stated: “We keep hearing that individuals need to not be collecting in groups larger than 10, but that’s precisely what we do every day.”

The three employees interviewed for this article are active with community groups that have actually emerged in the last few years to push Amazon to enhance labor defenses, including Make the Road and United for Regard. The groups are now part of Athena, an umbrella coalition of about 50 worker advocacy groups and neighborhood organizations opposed to Amazon.

Athena has actually pressed Amazon to provide paid leave to all its workers and to be more aggressive about closing down facilities where staff members could be at danger for direct exposure to the infection.

Mask shortage

Amazon creator and CEO Jeff Bezos composed on Saturday that the company has actually struggled get enough masks for its employees due to the fact that of frustrating global need for the items.

” We’ve positioned order for millions of face masks we desire to give to our staff members and contractors who can not work from house, but really few of those orders have been filled,” Bezos stated in a post on the company’s blog site. “Masks stay in brief supply internationally and are at this point being directed by federal governments to the highest-need facilities like healthcare facilities and clinics.”

Numerous Amazon staff members have been demanding the business to improve its paid time off policy, saying they’re afraid of getting ill. Currently, just workers who are detected with COVID-19 or put under quarantine can get up to two weeks of paid time off. Others can take unlimited unpaid time off up until the end of April, the business has stated.

If employees feel ill however can’t provide a positive coronavirus test, they are allowed to use accumulated paid time off or holiday time. That typically isn’t much of a choice– Moody stated she has actually collected less than one complete day of getaway time and PTO.

Jana Jumpp, who works at an Amazon center in Indiana, stated she knew of people coming in to work sweating or with a high temperature. “People are not being offered sanitizer or wipes and not being provided masks,” she added.

Jumpp, 58, has actually stopped showing up for work due to the fact that coronavirus postures greater dangers for older adults. “I’m taking unsettled leave due to the fact that it’s my only option,” she said.

Amazon defends “distinct” role

In a statement to CBS MoneyWatch, Amazon indicated its function as an essential company of products and services to millions of people:

” The health and security of our employees and contractors around the world continues to be our leading concern. As neighborhoods worldwide are needing social distancing, we’re seeing that our teams– much like supermarket, drug stores and other vital services– have an unique role getting customers the critical items they require and this is particularly crucial for the senior, individuals with underlying health concerns, and those sick or quarantined.”

Amazon has taken actions to lower the chances that workers might get contaminated, the business told CBS MoneyWatch in an email. Those measures include stopping briefly day-to-day shift meetings, barring public visitors to its structures, performing training in smaller groups and no longer needing workers to be screened at the end of their shift. Amazon also stated workers have the ability to take breaks from their shifts to wash or sterilize their hands, which the breaks would not impact their efficiency evaluations.

In another relocation that benefits workers, Amazon is boosting pay by $2 an hour to a minimum of $15 an hour. The business said it would raise overtime pay to be double an employee’s routine rate of pay, up from the basic 1.5 rate. It is also moving to hire 100,000 brand-new associates as it deals with record need for its services.

Nevertheless, Amazon has actually not enabled its employees to do what lots of health professionals have called for: stay at home. While workers are currently enabled to take endless time off work without pay, lots of can’t pay for to.

” The No. 1 thing that would keep everybody in a center safe is if everyone who was stressed over being exposed could stay at home,” stated Dania Rajendra, director of the Athena coalition.

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Rajendra explained that other large companies, including Starbucks and Finest Buy, have committed to paying workers even as they close facilities or make appearing optional.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has called on Amazon to provide 14 days of additional paid sick leave to all its workers, noting that requiring a medical diagnosis is onerous at a time that coronavirus tests remain in brief supply and even many individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 aren’t getting checked.

” Any failure of Amazon to keep its employees safe does not just put their workers at danger– it puts the whole nation at risk,” Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Sherrod Brown and Robert Menendez composed to Amazon, separately. “Americans who are taking every safety measure, staying at home and practicing social distancing, might run the risk of getting infected with COVID-19 since of Amazon’s choice to prioritize efficiency and earnings over the security and wellness of its workforce.”