Chris Smalls worked as a supervisor at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, where he oversaw a team of 60-100 “pickers.”
Early last March, Smalls noticed that people at his warehouse were getting sick. He approached HR and told them that they must quarantine the facility and take proactive measures against the burgeoning pandemic. Amazon refused.
Jeff Bezos is the second richest man in the world. Despite having a net worth of over $180,000,000,000, he has cut hazard pay for his warehouse workers, decreased health care benefits, and retaliates against vocal and concerned employees.
By the end of last March, Smalls was invited to a managers’ meeting where he was informed of the facility’s first confirmed case of COVID-19. The managers advised Smalls not to tell anybody, but as soon as the meeting ended, Smalls told as many people as he could about the situation:
“I had meetings in the common areas and dozens of workers joined us to talk about their concerns. People were afraid. We went to the general manager’s office to demand that the building be closed down so it could be sanitized. We also said we wanted to be paid during the duration of that time. Another demand of ours was that people who can’t go to work because of underlying health conditions be paid. Why do they have to risk catching the virus to put food on the table? This company makes trillions of dollars. Still, our demands and concerns are falling on deaf ears. It’s crazy. They don’t care if we fall sick. Amazon thinks we are expendable.” Amazon continued to ignore the safety of the warehouse associates, so in response, they staged a walkout that was led by Smalls.
Amazon fired him shortly thereafter. Today, Chris Smalls leads a nationwide protest movement called The Congress of Essential Workers that fights for better working conditions and better wages.
✊ Chris’s Twitter: @Shut_downAmazon
✊ Chris’s Podcast: Issa Smalls World
✊ The Congress of Essential Workers: tcoew.org
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