Amazon, the world’s largest retailer, is powerful and with great power comes great responsibility. Responsible power is accompanied by transparency and especially when you have staff deaths.
The CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos will be a trillioniare by 2026. That’s the approximate worth of Amazon as a corporation in 2020.
Workers’ health and safety have taken a backdoor to profit margins. The greatest example of this is Amazon already cutting off recently granted $2 raises to it’s employees.
Should we believe the Amazon employees or executives?
The first protests against Amazon’s treatment of its employees started in New York with Chris Smalls.
Chris Smalls raised concerns with superiors at Amazon on behalf of his subordinates. They ignored and smeared Smalls as unintelligent and incapable of leading a unionized effort.
The conversations of top board members leaked to media. The shared emails included Jeff Bezos.
Soon after Chris Smalls did not have a job at Amazon.
This invigorated Smalls to take on the role of an Activist in lieu of his firing. He has since been interviewed by Lesley Stahl on 60 minutes (CBS). Head of Operations Dave Clark who is in charge of over a thousand Amazon facilities got interviewed in contrast.
The cross examination offers a very sanitized version of events on behalf of Amazon.
Amazon’s PR stunt had Bezos walking through a warehouse
Jeff Bezos did a PR stunt by walking through a warehouse. The media arm put out a bunch of ads about how they’re here for everyone in these trying times. Many companies have now switched to this compassionate advertisement model.
The first employee to have COVID-19 was reported in early March. The first employee that died from the disease was Operations Manager from Southern California. Business Insider states this happened March 31.
I originally stated A worker died at the Bronx fulfillment center in April. I was mistaken. There was an employee who worked at the Staten Island facility who died in April. It was at that facility. There have been calls from RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum to close and disinfect it according to ABC.
Amazon has thus far spent $800 million (of a promised $4 billion) in response to this. The problem is; for a trillion dollar company that amounts to a drop in the bucket. Since the first fatality happened there are now seven Amazon workers who have died.
Amazon is instituting 150+ new sanitizing methods to quell COVID-19. But the numbers of deaths do not coincide with what one might consider safe.
The company maintains any cause of cases of COVID-19 came from outside the facility. COVID-19 can be asymptomatic.
They understand the severity of the situation because they pulled out of MWC in February to protect it’s public facing reps.
VP Tim Bray stepped down over the firing of whistle blowers. He said it speaks to an element of toxicity in the companies’ culture from the top down.
Now would be a great time for those Amazon Drones. As the world’s largest retailer, Amazon has to do better.
UPDATE: An Amazon Spokesperson has since issued the following statement:
In regards to the worker compensation: “This appreciation pay incentive enabled us to deliver essential items to communities during these unprecedented times. We are grateful to associates supporting customers during a time of increased demand, and are returning to our regular pay and overtime wages at the end of the month.”
In regards to the firing of Chris Smalls: “We did not terminate Mr. Smalls employment for organizing a 15-person protest. We terminated his employment for putting the health and safety of others at risk and violations of his terms of his employment. Mr. Smalls received multiple warnings for violating social distancing guidelines. He was also found to have had close contact with a diagnosed associate with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and was asked to remain home with pay for 14-days, which is a measure we’re taking at sites around the world. Despite that instruction to stay home with pay, he came onsite further putting the teams at risk.”