WORKERS from big US businesses are set to stage an unprecedented strike Friday amid the coronavirus crisis, reports say.
The protest comes as:
Instacart, Walmart, and Amazon announce nearly 1M jobs in March
Amazon ramps up cleaning as virus spreads to 10 warehouses
Workers in Michigan plan another walkout at the start of April
Walmart starts temperature checks while Amazon builds testing lab
More than 26 million Americans file for unemployment by April 28
Amazon, Instacart, Whole Foods, Walmart, Target, and FedEx workers plan walkout
Union membe Day,” said Daniel Steinbrook, a Whole Foods employee strike organizer.
Steinbrook said this is “to show solidarity with other essential workers in our struggle for better protections and benefits in the pandemic.”
The May 1 demonstration on International Workers Day comes amid claims, from Amazon staffers in particular, that big businesses are not being honest about the COVID infection rates.
Jana Jumpp, an Amazon employee in Indiana and her colleagues calculated at least 500 coronavirus cases in at least 125 Amazon facilities, according to The Intercept.
Amazon told The Sun they “object to the irresponsible actions of labor groups in spreading misinformation and making false claims about Amazon during this unprecedented health and economic crisis.”
“The statements made are not supported by facts or representative of the majority of the 500,000 Amazon operations employees in the U.S. who are showing up to work to support their communities,” spokesperson Lisa Levandowski said Tuesday.
“What’s true is that masks, temperature checks, hand sanitizer, increased time off, increased pay, and more are standard across our Amazon and Whole Food Market networks already.”
Whole Workers – who represent Whole Foods employees – say there have been 249 cases in at least 131 stores.
But Levandowski insisted the company invested heavily health and safety “through increased safety measures and the procurement of millions of safety supplies and have invested nearly $700 million in increased pay.”
Lead organizer Christian Smalls was fired by Amazon on March 30, hours after he lead his colleagues on a walkout protest in relation to Amazon’s response.
He told the publication the protest will be a telling message to companies after he was contacted by dozens of workers who are sick of their workplace conditions.
This prompted him to unite with the likes of Amazonians United, Target Workers Unite, Whole Worker, and the Gig Workers Collective and others.
Their response was orchestrated via Zoom calls and the likes of Telegram and Signal, encrypted messaging apps, according to The Intercept, who spoke to over 20 organizers in several areas, including Boston, Silicon Valley, Kentucky, and Michigan.
The coalition movement comes after Amazon announced it would be ending its temporary, unlimited paid time off for workers from April 30.
This prompted 50 of their workers to walk out in Minnesota – a month after the company announced 100,000 jobs back in March and 75,000 more in April.
Instacart also hired 300,000 new shoppers in March before announcing 250,000 new hires this month.
While companies faced criticism for cashing in on the crisis, they increased hourly pay by $2 at Amazon, Walmart, and Target.
Workers have claimed that for weeks there is little to no social distancing in Amazon warehouses with no gloves, masks, or PPE before the company began providing PPE and thoroughly cleaning premises.