Non-union Amazon workers protesting coronavirus conditions get support of big labor groups

The unions called for the "swift reinstatement" of former Amazon employee Christian Smalls

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Although they're not unionized, Amazon workers who say their work environments aren't safe enough amid the coronavirus pandemic received the resounding support of some of the country's most powerful unions, who wrote a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

"We write in support of your own workers calling for you to CLOSE Amazon warehouses until you put into place real solutions — with independent monitors — to protect your workers and the public in this moment of public health crisis," they wrote.


Union leaders from the AFL-CIO, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Service Employees International Union plus more than 30 New York state elected officials signed last week's letter.

They called for the "swift reinstatement" of former Amazon employee Christian Smalls, who was fired last week after staging a small walkout at the Staten Island warehouse where he worked.

Gerald Bryson, left, join workers at an Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island, N.Y., protesting conditions in the company's warehouse, Monday March 30, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

They also called for increased efforts to make sure Amazon warehouses are following proper safety protocols and employee benefits, including monitoring warehouses, canceling rate and productivity requirements, covering childcare expenses and providing retroactive pay.

It's not the first time some of these groups called out Amazon.  The AFL-CIO, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and the Communications Workers of America called for a boycott of Amazon "Prime Day" in 2019 because of striking Minnesota workers.

"These accusations are simply unfounded," an Amazon spokesperson said. "Nothing is more important than the safety of our teams."

The spokesperson added that Amazon has "implemented a broad suite of new benefits changes for employees in our operations and logistics network throughout this unprecedented pandemic" including an additional $2 for hourly pay, double overtime pay and two weeks of paid time-off for employees who self-quarantine.

David Clark, Amazon's senior vice president of worldwide operations, on Wednesday afternoon announced that the company would be enacting four new safety measures as employees across the country protested over concerns that the e-commerce giant is not enforcing proper precautions.


Clark's announcement laying out four new safety measures includes requiring workers to have their temperatures checked as soon as they come into work, delivering millions of masks to workers as soon as Thursday and to all workers by next week, performing daily audits of its new health measures and continuing to financially invest in workers.

Those measures come on top of more than "150 significant process changes" Amazon has made "to ensure the health and safety" of its workers, Clark said.


This article contains material from previous FOX Business posts.