Amazon Worker Who Led Strike Over Virus Says Company Fired Him




 

(Bloomberg) -- Chris Smalls, an Amazon.com Inc. fulfillment center employee, said the company fired him after he led a strike at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, over coronavirus safety conditions.

"Taking action cost me my job," Smalls said Monday in a Bloomberg TV interview. "Because I tried to stand up for something that's right, the company decided to retaliate against me."

A group of workers at the Staten Island fulfillment center walked off the job Monday to demand Amazon close the facility for extended cleaning, the latest in a wave of virus-related protests. They say a number of their colleagues there were diagnosed with Covid-19. Organizers say more than 60 workers participated in the protest.

In a statement Monday night, New York State Attorney General Letitia James called Smalls' firing "immoral and inhumane." James urged the National Labor Relations Board to investigate the incident and said her office "is considering all legal options" as well.

Amazon confirmed it fired Smalls, saying he violated safety regulations, including failing to abide by a 14-day quarantine required after being exposed to an employee with a confirmed case of Covid-19.

"Mr. Smalls received multiple warnings for violating social distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk," Amazon said in a statement. Smalls "was asked to remain home with pay for 14 days, which is a measure we're taking at sites around the world. Despite that instruction to stay home with pay, he came on site today, March 30, further putting the teams at risk."

Smalls called the company's claim "ridiculous" and said he was being retaliated against for his activism. Federal law protects the right of employees to engage in collective action, including strikes, to protest working conditions.

"I'm still going to continue to fight for those people inside of that building," he said.

Amazon also disputed the number of workers involved in the protest, saying it was 15 of more than 5,000 employees at the Staten Island site.

"Like all businesses grappling with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, we are working hard to keep employees safe while serving communities and the most vulnerable," the company said.

(Updates with statement from attorney general in fourth paragraph)

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

Subscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Masks Are Here to Stay, Even After Covid Goes Away
Masks Are Here to Stay, Even After Covid Goes Away

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- There were many missteps in the U.S. response to Covid-19, especially at the outset of the outbreak. One that stands out is the early choice to recommend against the widespread public use of masks by the Trump administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - and even Anthony Fauci.In hindsight and in light of current pro-mask guidelines, it's easy to get upset at what feels like inconsistent advice and a delayed reaction, but the ability to change opinions based on new information is what we should want from public-health officials, even while wishing they were faster or right the first time around. That's how science works, especially during the...

Wall Street Weekahead: Investors eye consumer discretionary stocks as U.S. reopens
Wall Street Weekahead: Investors eye consumer discretionary stocks as U.S. reopens

Investors are taking a closer look at the market's consumer discretionary companies as a reopening U.S. economy fuels hopes of a turnaround for some of the sector's hardest-hit names. Many companies in the sector have been battered by the country-wide coronavirus-fueled lockdowns that have weighed on growth and damaged retail spending over the last several months, though the stocks of a few, like Amazon, have soared. A gradual lifting of lockdowns in some states has stirred hopes for a bounce back for the retailers that make up much of the sector.

Wall Street Week Ahead: Investors eye consumer discretionary stocks as U.S. reopens
Wall Street Week Ahead: Investors eye consumer discretionary stocks as U.S. reopens

Investors are taking a closer look at the market's consumer discretionary companies as a reopening U.S. economy fuels hopes of a turnaround for some of the sector's hardest-hit names. Many companies in the sector have been battered by the country-wide coronavirus-fueled lockdowns that have weighed on growth and damaged retail spending over the last several months, though the stocks of a few, like Amazon, have soared. A gradual lifting of lockdowns in some states has stirred hopes for a bounce back for the retailers that make up much of the sector.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Economy