Ex-Amazon worker organizing protest outside Jeff Bezos' NYC penthouse
Demands include a $30 minimum wage and $200,000 payments to families of employees who died of COVID-19
Ex-Amazon worker Christian Smalls is organizing a protest outside CEO Jeff Bezos' $80 million New York City penthouse on Sunday.
Amazon fired Smalls in March after he staged a small walkout outside a Staten Island warehouse in protest of the tech giant's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, he has staged other protests, including one in May that targeted multiple companies.
"The demands in our press release are what we're advocating for," Smalls told FOX Business. "We're trying to amplify the voices of workers. I had a very large role to play in what you might call this revolution, and I'm trying to use my platform to help workers."
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Amazon did not immediately respond to an inquiry from FOX Business regarding Sunday's planned protest.
Smalls and employee rights organization The Congress of Essential Workers planned the protest — which will include other essential workers including nurses, public transportation workers, teachers and so on — outside Bezos' home to take a more direct action against the richest man in the world and "amplify a wealth tax on billionaires."
"We never took any direct action against Jeff Bezos, but with everything going on—like the antitrust hearing—we're trying to put something together than we can continue," he said.
Bezos, the founder, president and chief executive of Amazon and Blue Origin, is worth $185.8 billion, according to Forbes.
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Smalls and The Congress of Essential Workers are demanding the following from Amazon and other large U.S. corporations for the duration of the pandemic:
- More personal protective equipment (PPE)
- 100-percent PTO for employees who test positive for COVID-19 until they test negative
- Required two-week closures of buildings that report more than one confirmed COVID-19 case during which time all employees receive 100-percent pay
- $2-per-hour hazard pay and sick time pay
- More transparency about COVID-19 cases at warehouses/workplaces
- All employees fired for protesting unsafe work conditions during COVID-19 be reinstated
- Family members of employees who died due to COVID-19 receive "an additional $200,000 directly from the company"
- $30-per-hour minimum wage
- All employees get shareholder access
- Free child care and health care for all full-time employees
- Free child care and health care are provided by the company for all full-time employees.
- One-hour lunch breaks for employees working on-site
- Monthly bonuses
- Immediate notification of "logged feedback, write-ups, disciplinary warnings and employee reviews," as well as records of logs
- Declaration of neutral stance on unionization so employees can freely unionize
- Retroactive pay for any unpaid time between March and the moment all demands are met
Workers are coming out in protest of the company in larger numbers than they were during the early months of COVID-19, Smalls said, ever since Amazon ended its $2-per-hour hazard pay in early June and unlimited unpaid time off in late April.
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Amazon announced in late June, however, that it would be giving $500 "thank you" bonuses to full-time frontline workers and $250 to part-time frontline workers. The tech giant said in a regularly updated blog post that it has made 150 changes to its operations amid COVID-19 and plans to invest up to "$4 billion on COVID-related initiatives getting products to customers and keeping employees safe."
Workers who test positive for the virus will receive up to two weeks of PTO "in addition to their other paid and unpaid time off options," plus "comprehensive health benefits," the blog post reads.
Smalls said these commitments don't translate to the reality of warehouse conditions. He and other workers have been appalled by Amazon's lack of transparency regarding COVID-19 cases at warehouses, he said, as well as a lack of PPE, social distancing and a disregard for masks at some warehouse locations.
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"I have workers [who] contact me all the time. They're not protected still," he said. "There are cases in buildings, people are still contracting the virus. ... Some people are bringing the virus home, and relatives are dying. It's an unfortunate situation they're putting their workers in."
Amazon says it has distributed millions of face masks to workers and implemented temperature checks and disinfectant spraying at its locations.
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