While e-commerce and retail companies are set to announce big jumps in sales in the coming days, disgruntled workers are planning to down their tools
A coalition of employees from some of the top retail firms – including Amazon, Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, and Instacart – will walk out of work on May 1, in protest of what they believe to be unfair business practices, The Intercept reports.
More Work for Less Reward
The news source also explains that Amazon has been at the center of the strike action. Workers are reportedly disappointed at the company’s conduct so far, as it’s reportedly been keeping a tight lid on the number of coronavirus cases at its warehouses.
As the report explained, the employees will either call in sick or walk out of work during the lunch break. Some locations will also see rank-and-file union members join factory workers in support of their industrial action.
Daniel Steinbrook, a Whole Foods employee, and strike organizer, explained to the news source,
“We are acting in conjunction with workers at Amazon, Target, Instacart, and other companies for International Workers Day to show solidarity with other essential workers in our struggle for better protections and benefits in the pandemic.”
Jana Jumpp, an Amazon employee in Indiana, explained that there had been at least 500 coronavirus cases in at least 125 Amazon facilities already. However, she suspects that the number is much higher, although Amazon has also failed to report any of them.
Amazon Bears the Brunt
For long, Amazon has been the face of big companies making money off the back of its workers’ sweat and labor. During the coronavirus pandemic, this image has been additionally reinforced.
The firm has been under increased scrutiny in this time, and while the firm has put in measures to protect its workers, the criticism over its handling of their health and safety has still been enormous.
According to an NPR report, Letitia James, the attorney general of the state of New York, wrote in a letter to the company, that her Office had found some disturbing information regarding employees’ health and safety gear.
In part, she reportedly said,
“The information so far available to us raises concerns that Amazon’s health and safety measures taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic are so inadequate that they may violate several provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
It’s a serious problem that could mean significant fines if Amazon is found to be in violation.
So far, different state attorneys general have raised different issues with Amazon. Last month, a group of 15, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, called on the firm to extend paid family and sick leave for workers during the crisis.
Another group. Another group of 33 warned the firm and others to crack down on predatory price gouging on their platforms.
Still, the firm’s most significant problem has been its employee health and safety standards. Earlier this month, workers at the firm’s Staten Island warehouse walked out in protest after accusing the firm of poorly handling their safety needs.
Chris Smalls, the lead protester, explained that they had to force the firm’s hand as it didn’t show any signs of taking action. Amazon eventually fired Smalls for his role in the protests – a move that triggered AG James’ probe.