State AGs Demand Amazon Tell Them How Many Warehouse Workers Have Died From COVID-19


TOPLINE

A group of state attorneys general demanded in a written letter that Amazon disclose how many warehouse workers and Whole Foods employees have been infected with or died from the coronavirus, increasing scrutiny from regulators for its response to the coronavirus.

KEY FACTS

The state attorneys general asked Amazon to provide them with a state-by-state breakdown of how many warehouse and Whole Foods workers have been infected with and or died from the coronavirus.

According to unofficial tallies from media reports, four Amazon warehouse workers and two Whole Foods employees have died from the coronavirus—but Amazon has thus far not released exact numbers.

An Amazon executive has previously said that number isn’t “useful” because “it’s relative to the size of the building and then the overall community infection rate.”

The state attorneys general also chided Amazon for not adopting a more generous paid sick leave policy and asked the company to investigate recent claims the company  retaliated against employees for raising concerns about the treatment of frontline workers.

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and Washington D.C. signed onto the letter.

Amazon in a statement said safety is “top priority” and added that it has “implemented over 150 significant process changes—from enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures to new efforts like disinfectant spraying” to protect employees.

Crucial quote

“We understand that both companies are seeing a significant increase in sales as well, as consumers rely even more on online shopping and buy more groceries as they stay at home,” the letter reads. “It is incumbent upon Amazon

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and Whole Foods as businesses and employers not to worsen the emergency by failing to take every possible step to protect their employees and their customers.”

key background

Amazon has become a target for labor groups and Democratic lawmakers who say the company isn’t doing enough to protect its employees from the coronavirus. Warehouse workers have complained about lax enforcement of social distancing guidelines, not enough paid sick leave and have called on facilities with known infections to be shut down and cleaned. Amazon has said it is providing masks and temperature checks to employees as well as staggered shifts. Small groups of warehouse workers have organized strikes in recent weeks to draw attention to the issue.

news peg

At least four Amazon employees, including two tech workers, were fired after raising concerns about safety conditions for frontline employees. Amazon has denied they were retaliated against, but the issue drew the ire of Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, all of whom also asked Amazon in a letter last week to explain its policies for discipline and firing workers who raise health and safety concerns.

Further reading

Amazon Faces A New Opponent: Some Of Its Own Tech Employees (Forbes)

Nine Senators Including Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders And Kamala Harris Ask Jeff Bezos To Explain Why Amazon Fired Whistleblowers (Forbes)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus



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