Hundreds of Amazon workers to call out sick today protesting unsafe working conditions

Posted at 5:28 AM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 07:54:05-04

Hundreds of Amazon employees are expected to call out sick Tuesday in protest of unsafe working conditions. They claim the company is putting profits over their safety.

This comes as workers at Amazon warehouses around the country have tested positive for COVID-19, including at several plants here in southeast michigan, like Romulus.

More than 300 workers from at least 50 warehouses around the country are expected to participate in the "sick out."

On April 1, workers were standing right outside the Romulus warehouse, demanding change, claiming they’re putting their lives on the line to ship non-essential goods without proper PPE.

“You have people coughing and sneezing as you’re walking. And something needs to be done," said Tonya Ramsey, an Romulus Amazon worker.

Amazon workers at the Romulus plant were fed up with working conditions they claim put profits over their own protection.

Earlier this month, they called for the Romulus plant to be shut down for two weeks for a deep cleaning, after workers there tested positive for COVID-19.

“You’re not really doing social distancing. There’s about 500-600 people in the building on a daily basis," said Mario Crippen, another Amazon worker in Romulus. "Sometimes in some areas we are shoulder to shoulder.”

Now, workers are again taking action: A mass sick out planned for Tuesday, with more than 300 workers expected to participate from around the country.

The group organizing the sick-out called “United for Respect” is calling for improved transparency and sanitation of Amazon facilities, also hazard pay and full healthcare for all associates, among other things.

This, after Amazon went on a nationwide hiring spree to keep up with demand during the pandemic. It’s also offering more money to hourly workers, but many tell 7 Action News they’re still on job with limited protective gear, and working far too close to others.

"I have a 7-year-old and a 19-month-old. I don't want tot bring back that virus," said Alan Card, Jr., an Amazon worker.

Some workers are worried about bringing the virus home if they’re exposed on the job. More than 4,000 people work at the Romulus plant — during the last protest, Amazon stressed that only a fraction of its workers participated.

They went on to say that quote “like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable.”

Amazon spokeswoman Rachael Lighty gave 7 Action News the following statement in response:

"These accusations are simply unfounded. Nothing is more important than the safety of our teams. Our employees are heroes fighting for their communities and helping people get critical items they need in this crisis. Like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable. We have taken extreme measures to keep people safe, tripling down on deep cleaning, procuring safety supplies that are available, and changing processes to ensure those in our buildings are keeping safe distances. The truth is the vast majority of employees continue to show up and do the heroic work of delivering for their communities every day. We encourage anyone interested in the facts to compare our overall pay and benefits, as well as our speed in managing this crisis, to other retailers and major employers across the country."

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