Categories
Labor actions

Whole Foods Workers Planning May 1 Strike

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/apr/15/whole-food-protests-coronavirus-working-conditions-sickout

Whole Foods workers across the US are planning to hold another sickout protest on 1 May, as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus infections at the supermarket chain continue to rise and workers charge the Amazon-owned company is doing too little to help them.

Workers complain too little is being done to enforce social distancing in stores; it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to qualify for sick pay; and some are not given masks or training on cleaning. In the meantime, Whole Foods is reportedly recording record sales.

Dan Steinbrook, an employee at Whole Foods in Boston, said: “The bottom line is we don’t think Whole Foods or Amazon is doing nearly enough as they could be to protect both employees and customers at the store in terms of personal safety and public health.”

Steinbrook, who also participated in a sickout protest on 31 March organized by Whole Worker, a worker activism group said: “Grocery stores are one of the only places open to the public so they’ve become a significant public health concern in terms of stopping the spread of this disease. Any transmission we can stop at the grocery stores is extremely important for saving a lot of lives.”

Whole Foods workers have become increasingly concerned over the confirmed cases of coronavirus at Whole Foods stores. Employees have tested positive for coronavirus at Whole Foods locations across the country including West Orange, New JerseySudbury, MassachusettsBrookline, MassachusettsArlington, MassachusettsHingham, MassachusettsCambridge, MassachusettsSan Francisco, CaliforniaNew York City, New YorkFort Lauderdale, FloridaNew Orleans, Louisiana and Allentown, Pennsylvania.

photo credit: Peter Foley EPA (the Guardian)

Categories
Labor actions

Amazon Stiffing its Workers Who Are Out Sick

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/08/amazon-warehouse-workers-say-they-struggle-to-get-paid-despite-sick-leave-policy.html

 

 KEY POINTS
  • Amazon said it would provide workers with up to two weeks of paid sick leave if they tested positive or are in quarantine due to the coronavirus.
  • But five Amazon workers told CNBC they’ve received no pay or were given 60% of their typical weekly paycheck, despite meeting the requirements for paid sick leave.
  • Many of them are now applying for unemployment benefits in order to make up for gaps in their income.

A worker at a facility in Indiana said it feels like there’s “lots of hoops that workers have to jump through” in order to get paid while they’re in quarantine. The worker, who asked to remain anonymous, said the issue has only added to workers’ frustrations around safety and transparency at their facilities.

“We do not feel safe in our building anymore,” the worker said. “And the pay we do get if we test positive is only 60% of our pay. Amazon is not taking care of us.”

An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC that the company offered two weeks of paid sick time to “ensure employees have the time they need to return to good health without the worry of lost income.” Employees who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are in quarantine may be eligible for additional paid time off beyond the two weeks, the spokesperson said. They added that the company is “working with employees to gather the information we need to approve” extra paid sick time.

“Because we are continually revisiting policies to ensure the safety of our employees, going forward, this information may include self-report of patterns of symptoms and exposure, particularly when the employee cannot obtain medical certification at all,” the spokesperson said.

Photo by Jeenah Moon for Reuters on CNBC website of worker at Amazon’s Staten Island, NY facility.

Categories
Boycott Amazon Campaign

Amazon’s Self-Publishing Arm Is a Haven for White Supremacists

https://www.propublica.org/article/the-hate-store-amazons-self-publishing-arm-is-a-haven-for-white-supremacists

The company gives extremists and neo-Nazis banned from other platforms unprecedented access to a mainstream audience — and even promotes their books.

Featured Graphic: Extremism flourishes on Amazon’s self-publishing arm. (Tom Gauld, special to ProPublica )

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published.

This story is a collaboration between ProPublica and The Atlantic and is not subject to our Creative Commons license.

Fair use excerpt (go to link above for full story):

“Give me, a white man, a reason to live,” a user posted to the anonymous message board 4chan in the summer of 2017. “Should I get a hobby. What interests can I pursue to save myself from total despair. How do you go on living.”

A fellow user had a suggestion: “Please write a concise book of only factual indisputable information exposing the Jews,” focusing on “their selling of our high tech secrets to China/Russia” and “their long track record of pedophilia and perversion etc.”

The man seeking advice was intrigued. “And who would publish it and who would put it in their bookstores that would make it worth the trouble,” he asked.

The answer came a few minutes later. “Self-publish to Amazon,” his interlocutor replied.

Categories
Labor actions

Workers Fight Back Against Amazon Retaliation

https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/04/07/amazon-retaliation-workers-striking-back/

Amazon Retaliation: Workers Striking Back

by MATT SMITH

Photograph Source: Fibonacci Blue – CC BY 2.0

Amazon and its contractors have a pattern of retaliating against and intimidating employees who speak out. I know – because they also tried to do it to me.

Last week, my Amazon coworkers in New York took the courageous step of walking off the job to protest our company’s lack of action to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Amazon workers in Detroit and Chicago have followed suit, demanding that Amazon shut down any warehouse where positive cases of the virus are found, to ensure a thorough cleaning.

Out of a selfish concern for their profits, Amazon has refused to take this basic step, despite repeated requests from Amazon workers, including a petition signed last month by over 4,500 of us.

Now, Amazon employees have tested positive in at least 19 warehouses around the country, and the situation has become dire. So my coworkers are taking action.

But rather than act to protect our health, Amazon’s wealthy executives have chosen to retaliate against employees who speak out. In a brazen attempt to suppress employee dissent, they responded to the Staten Island walkout by firing its main organizer, Chris Smalls.

This decision came from the highest levels of the company. In leaked meeting notes between Jeff Bezos and company executives, Amazon Senior Vice President and General Counsel, David Zapolsky, made racist, anti-worker remarks against Chris, calling him “not smart or articulate” and arguing the company should make him “the face of the entire union/organizing movement.”

The billionaires and executives at Amazon want control, and they are terrified by the idea of workers getting organized to demand things like paid sick leave, hazard pay, and safe working conditions that might have the slightest impact on their billions of dollars in profits. The executives are nervous at the increased questioning by their rank-and-file, including tech and corporate employees. That’s why they are desperate to prevent workers like Chris from speaking out. As Chris put it in an interview with socialist Seattle councilmember Kshama Sawant, by firing him, Amazon is “trying to cut off the head of the snake.”

Categories
Labor actions

More Protests Against Amazon COVID-19 Endangerment

https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/1/21202745/amazon-coronavirus-walk-out-detroit-protests-warehouse-cleaning

Amazon workers at a fulfillment center near Detroit, Michigan, plan to walk out over the company’s handling of COVID-19. Workers at the facility, called DTW1, say management failed to notify them of the first new coronavirus case and was slow to alert them to the second, leading them to suspect there are more infections at the warehouse than they’re being told about. The workers also say that shortages of cleaning supplies, crowded conditions, and a pace of work that leaves little time for sanitation put them at risk of infection. They are calling on Amazon to be more transparent about the virus and immediately close and clean the warehouse.

On the morning of the walkout, workers received an alert that a third worker had tested positive for the virus.

The walkout is the latest in a series of labor actions at Amazon facilities. On Monday night, workers at a Chicago delivery station walked off the job in protest of Amazon’s refusal to close the building for cleaning after a worker tested positive for COVID-19. Earlier that day, workers at a Staten Island fulfillment center walked out, also calling on Amazon to close the facility for cleaning. At the time, Amazon had confirmed only one case of COVID-19 at the Staten Island facility, but, as with DTW1, workers suspected there were more. Amazon has since confirmed that five workers are infected with the virus, according to notifications viewed by The Verge.

Workers in New York and Chicago have been organizing for better working conditions since long before the pandemic, but workers at DTW1 say the facility hasn’t been a major site of protests, a sign that frustration with Amazon’s handling of the virus is beginning to galvanize its larger workforce.

Categories
Labor actions

Whole Foods, warehouse workers demand time off, hazard pay

Amazon warehouse workers are walking out and Whole Foods workers are striking

In solidarity with warehouse workers, tech workers at Amazon are demanding the company provide fully paid family leave for people who miss work, provide fully paid leave to all Amazon workers, close facilities immediately following contamination, ensure full paid leave for workers whose jobs are impacted by such closures and ensure everyone has unlimited time to take care of their health.

“Recognizing the urgency of the moment, tech workers are going beyond asking Amazon to take action and are pledging not to work for Amazon if it fails to act,” the DC Tech Workers Coalition wrote in a petition. “We also pledge to ask organizations in our communities such as universities and conferences to not accept Amazon as a sponsor or participant in events.”

Meanwhile, workers at Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon, are organizing a “sick out” strike tomorrow to demand better protections on the job, Vice reports.

According to Vice, Whole Foods workers will call in sick tomorrow and demand paid sick leave for those who stay at home or self-quarantine during the pandemic. They will also demand free coronavirus testing for employees and hazard pay.

Led by group Whole Worker, the sick-out was originally planned for May 1, but was moved up in response to reports that workers have started getting sick and testing positive for COVID-19.

“As this situation has progressed, our fundamental needs as workers have become more urgent,” the group wrote on its campaign page. “COVID-19 poses a very real threat to the safety of our workforce and our customers. We cannot wait for politicians, institutions, or our own management to step in to protect us.”

https://www.eater.com/2020/3/30/21199491/whole-foods-workers-protest-coronavirus-working-conditions-sick-out

Whole Worker is a group of Whole Foods team members who are not officially unionized, given Amazon’s (Whole Foods’s parent company) long history of union busting. In a petition, they call on all Whole Foods employees to not go to work on March 31, and note that “Whole Foods has temporarily relaxed its strict attendance policy, which means that team members can participate in this act of protest without fear of reprisal.” They are staging the “sick out” in response to the lack of protections they feel management has given them, which put both workers and customers at risk.

Local coverage:

Whole Foods workers organizing ‘global sickout’ on Tuesday

Categories
Boycott Amazon Campaign Labor actions

Whole Foods Wants Workers to Donate Sick Leave to Ailing Co-Workers

We guess this is part of the way HOW Jeff Bezos got to be the world’s richest man. And this is at a time when Amazon is making money hand over fist because of the shift to remote shopping and goods delivery due to the physical distancing and stay-at-home orders.

https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Coronavirus-Whole-Foods-Asks-Workers-to-Pay-for-Sick-Leave–20200315-0007.html

“With the amount Jeff Bezos makes in one day, he could shut stores down and pay employees to stay safe,” a former employee said.

Employees of Whole Foods, which is owned by the richest person on the planet Jeff Bezos, were asked to give their own accumulated paid sick days to their co-workers forced to stop working because of the new coronavirus pandemic.

The executives of the grocery chain proposed employees to do so knowing the company is able to give its workers unlimited paid sick leave during what has been declared a national emergency in the United States (U.S.).

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey said in an email sent Wednesday to staffers that one of the options available to face the coronavirus crisis was to put their “paid time off” (PTO) days into a pool that other workers could take from.

“Team Members who have a medical emergency or death in their immediate family can receive donated PTO hours, not only from Team Members in their own location but also from Team Members across the country,” Mackey wrote in the email.

“As a subsidiary of Amazon, the world’s biggest company, Whole Foods could easily afford to pay its hourly employees for sick days taken during the coronavirus outbreak without breaking the bank. Instead, the company has put the onus back on workers, and they’re not happy about it,” Journalist Lauren Kaori Gurley, who broke the story for Motherboard, said.

Categories
Boycott Amazon Campaign

World’s Richest Man Wants Your Donations to His Workers

https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus-fury-worlds-richest-man-173301947.html

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos faces backlash after publicising a relief fund the public can donate to for his contract employees working during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Amazon Relief Fund was created with $25m from the e-commerce company to assist its “employees and partners”, specifically those who are responsible for the necessary task of delivering all the products consumers order across the US.

It’s focused on “supporting our US-based Delivery Associates employed by Delivery Service Providers, our Amazon Flex Delivery Partners, and Associates working for Integrity Staffing, Adecco Staffing, and RES Staffing, and drivers and support team members of line haul partners under financial distress due to a Covid-19 diagnosis or quarantine.”

Besides the company contributing $25m to the fund, it also allows the public to donate if they deem it important. “While we aren’t expecting anyone to do so, you can make a voluntary donation to the fund if you desire to do so,” Amazon wrote on its fund’s website.

Categories
Labor actions

Strikes at Amazon Warehouses in France

Image: Révolution

Strikes have broken out in several Amazon warehouses in France, to demand the closure of the sites and full payment of wages. Gregory Lavainne, activist and delegate from the UNSA trade union on the ORY1 site in Saran (close to Orléans), explains the situation.

Read the original in French

Révolution: How did the mobilization start?

Gregory Lavainne: After Macron’s first televised address, on Thursday 12 March, we asked the site management what they were planning on doing to ensure the safety of the workers. They just answered that they were going to apply the government’s recommendations.

Concretely, the managers asked the workers to respect the 1-meter distancing. But in reality, this is impossible to maintain: we cross paths with each other all the time in our work, and often at less than 1 meter’s distance.

They also reorganized breaks, so that there would only be 100 of us taking a break at the same time, rather than 200. They asked us to only take up one out of two chairs in the break room. Basically, a shoddy patch-up job.

What did you reply and demand?

We said that this wasn’t going far enough. We demanded that there be hand sanitizer gel available for all workers. They had put some in, but it quickly ran out. So they put in a kind of “antibacterial mousse” and said that would do the job. We demanded gel but they said they couldn’t find any. That’s their problem, not ours! They found some since then, but we fear that it won’t last and that they’re going to stick us with the mousse again.

We also demanded that all workers have their temperature taken when they come into the warehouse, when they go through the metal detectors. We know this isn’t enough, since you can be contagious without having a fever. But at least those who have a fever won’t come onto the site.

Instead of this, when a worker gets sick, management just sends them home and declares it a “flu-like condition”.

Amazon factory flickrStrikes have broken out in several Amazon warehouses in France, to demand the closure of the sites and full payment of wages / Image: Flickr, Álvaro Ibáñez

Finally, we asked for gloves and FFP2 masks for all workers who wanted to wear them.

We asked for all of this formally, via email. But we received no answer. Complete silence.

On the other hand, we found out that management and HR staff are now mostly working from home. It’s always up to the same people, ordinary people, to take all the risks.

When did you demand the closure of the site?

After Macron’s second speech, on Monday evening. We formed a joint union assembly and called on the workers to go on strike on Wednesday to demand the closure of the warehouse and full payment of the workers’ wages.

The strike was well attended: 130 strikers in the morning, 150 in the afternoon. We saw that the majority of the workers were relieved!

Then, the manager told us that it was impossible to close the site, that she couldn’t make that decision, that it would have to be decided by the French management of Amazon or even at the Seattle headquarters in the USA. Even in Spain and in Italy, where there were confirmed cases of contagion in some warehouses, they didn’t close them. And we are still getting delivery pallets from Spain and Italy.

We put up some posters on the walls of the warehouse on Wednesday, on which we wrote: “As Seattle counts its dollars, Europe buries its dead”.

Usually, on the site, management never stops reminding us: “safety first!”. But now we are seeing that that’s rubbish: in reality it’s “profits first!”.

The managers of Amazon have also let it be known that they would fight against anyone exercising their right to refuse work on health and safety grounds (droit de retrait) by docking their pay.

And now?

We are still demanding the closure of the warehouse and full payment of wages. And in terms of immediate actions, we have taken over the inspection of the work. We filed to declare “Grave and imminent danger” (a French labour law provision that allows workers to refuse work on health and safety grounds). An investigation has been opened. We are demanding the implementation of the measures I listed: FFP2 masks, gel, gloves, taking of temperature, and others: water bottles instead of water fountains; cutting the number of workers on each shift in half, with partial unemployment measures; a systematic disinfection of the places most susceptible to disease transmission. All that said, the only really effective measure would be to close the site. And that’s what we are going to keep fighting for.

Categories
Attacks on BDS

Anti-BDS Laws Violate Our Freedom

https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/02/17/119530/

Excerpt:

by SHELDON RICHMAN

Americans’ free-speech and other rights are being violated by state laws aimed at stifling the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) Movement against Israel’s illegal rule of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, both conquered over half a century ago. Twenty-eight states have enacted anti-BDS laws or executive orders that prohibit state agencies and state-financed entities, such as colleges, from doing business with any person or firm that hasn’t pledged never to boycott Israeli goods.

Photograph Source: Kate Ausburn – CC BY 2.0

Appropriately, these laws have come under fire as violations of both free speech and the right to engage in boycotts, which consist of peaceful decisions not to buy products of a particular origin.

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