Dear Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos,
As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds and communities everywhere prepare for the worst, Amazon workers have become crucial in getting people their food, water, and sanitation supplies. We have seen an increase in the volume of such goods, placing a greater strain on workers. Yet despite larger workloads, Amazon continues to enforce and raise productivity quotas. At the same time, many workers have been shocked to discover the company has been illegally denying them paid sick leave.
As Amazon employees and contractors, in both logistics and tech sectors, we are concerned about the company's current lack of protective measures. While Amazon has made some limited coronavirus accommodations, it needs a comprehensive plan to ensure the safety of all of its workers and the larger public, including giving workers paid leave and not simply extending our unpaid leave, as was announced recently.
We demand that Amazon take the following steps immediately and consult with us on further steps in the near future:
1) Paid Sick Leave Regardless of Diagnosis. Coronavirus testing remains highly inaccessible. Furthermore, we can still spread the virus before symptoms appear and we know to seek medical attention. Thus, restricting sick pay to diagnosed or quarantined workers encourages us to work when doing so is unsafe for ourselves and our communities. We demand Amazon makes paid sick leave available to all its workers (full-time, part-time, and contract) without requiring a positive coronavirus diagnosis or quarantine. The amount of paid leave must adequately accommodate particularly vulnerable workers (elderly, those with immunodeficiencies, etc.) for as long as they need, which in many cases will exceed the current two-week duration.
2) Childcare Pay and Subsidies. Schools and childcare facilities are closing across the world. This forces many workers to make the hard choice between getting paid and caring for our children. While Amazon has committed an initial $25 million to a Hardship Fund, it’s not clear whether school closures are covered by the fund and this amount is insufficient for the childcare needs of its many employees. The company should explicitly commit funds to subsidize childcare costs in the event of school closures impacting its workers.
3) 1.5x Hazard Pay. Amazon requires workers to take on an increased risk to their health in order to continue earning their wages. It is important to fulfill the needs of our communities as the virus spreads and leaves many unable to leave their homes. However, workers must be compensated for this added health and financial risk, particularly given that many of us do not receive benefits from Amazon as part-time workers. We demand time-and-a-half pay for those willing and able to take on the extra risk of working on-location.
4) No More Rate-Based Write-ups. In places like Italy where the coronavirus is further advanced, our fellow Amazon workers faced increased rates to meet demand - including in facilities where workers tested positive! Increased rates force us to make trade-offs between safety precautions and productivity requirements. These trade-offs also threaten public health since we deliver these packages delivered into the community. This is unacceptable, and we demand that Amazon stop enforcing rate-based quotas so that we may physically sanitize our packages and work stations, as needed, in order to keep ourselves and our customers safe.
5) Facility Shut Down. In the event a coworker tests positive for coronavirus, the facility must be shut down and workers given paid leave at their normal pay rate while the facility is thoroughly sterilized and workers are tested for the virus.
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