Is It Safe to Work at Amazon? Conditions at Amazon and What Employees Are Saying
Is Amazon safe to work at? Safety has been under close scrutiny during the Coronavirus. The company has taken safety measures, and employees speak out
12:44 03 June 2020
If we asked you to think of the top three companies that you think are making a windfall right now in the era of COVID-19, chances are high that Amazon would make the cut. And that's a fair assessment. After all, as a top purveyor of digital media and deliverable goods that's eclipsed the billion-dollar mark with ease, Amazon is tailor-made for this kind of crisis.
But regardless of Amazon's financial status, the question remains whether they've been taking proper steps to keep their workers safe during this crisis. So what's the verdict?
Well, we're glad you asked. It's time to lower the curtain and find out the answer to this question: is Amazon safe? So let's jump right in!
Is Amazon Safe? The Story So Far
It's important to start with where Amazon was before the outbreak. There had been some staff shuffling, with notable names like Peter Faricy leaving the company for new prospects. Regardless, 2018-2019 saw Amazon continue to climb the financial ladder.
Fast-forward to 2020, where America is gripped in a global pandemic. Amazon seemed poised to make a windfall, but there was a cost to pay for that increased demand. Amazon had to hire about 175,000 workers to compensate in addition to buffing worker wages so they stayed on (and to attract new workers).
However, it would seem this money did not get funneled enough towards worker security. While Amazon claimed to be taking security steps like implementing social distancing guidelines, workers said that Amazon either lagged on these steps until workers complained or straight-up did not implement them.
The breaking point came with Amazon's JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island in late March. An assistant manager named Barbara Chandler got sent home by another assistant manager named Christian Smalls. As days wore on, Chandler learned she had contracted the disease and notified her supervisors, who told her to stay quiet.
When Smalls and other employees spoke up to their supervisors about the violation of social distancing guidelines, they got ignored. Days later, a supervisor told Smalls he needed to leave and go into quarantine, as he had been in contact with an infected person.
All the signs pointed to this person being Chandler, though Smalls had not spent as much time in close proximity and Amazon makes it a policy not to disclose the identities of the workers who contract COVID-19.
Blow-Up and Fallout
Angry at what he saw as a targeted attack, Smalls organized a worker protest for March 30th where numerous protestors walked out of the building to stand against Amazon's treatment. Following the protest, Smalls got fired for what Amazon claimed was a breach of his "quarantine agreement" by returning to the building and endangering fellow employees.
In the weeks to follow, more walkouts and protests began to pop up as it became readily apparent this was not an isolated incident. Amazon has responded quickly to the incidents but failed to provide masks and disinfectants in a safe manner (according to workers). Tim Bray, a former VP of Amazon, even left the company in protest.
Since then, Amazon CEO Jef Bezos has pledged to take Amazon's $4 billion revenue from the most recent financial quarter and funnel it back into the company to help keep workers safe, but it's unclear how much has changed.
Caution is Key
So is Amazon safe? It seems they're taking steps to make it that way, but for a while, they had a lot of issues. What do you think?
For more updates on the world in the era of COVID-19, check out the other news posts on our site!