Oh, it’s ironic union-busting


Chris Smalls has been organizing workers at an Amazon facility in Staten Island. His goal has been to get the company to provide better safety protections.

“Amazon would rather fire workers than face up to its total failure to do what it should to keep us, our families, and our communities safe,” said Smalls.

“I am outraged and disappointed, but I’m not shocked. As usual, Amazon would rather sweep a problem under the rug than act to keep workers and working communities safe. Today, I stood with my co-workers because conditions at JFK8 are legitimately dangerous for workers and the public. Amazon thinks this might shut me up, but I’m going to keep speaking up. My colleagues in New York and all around the country are going to keep speaking up. We won’t stop until Amazon provides real protections for our health and safety and clarity for everybody about what it is doing to keep people safe in the middle of the worst pandemic of our lifetimes,” he added.

Multiple workers have recently contracted the coronavirus, and they were justifiably increasingly concerned that the pandemic was going to sweep through the facility. Amazon’s explanation for why Smalls was fired was charmingly Orwellian.

Amazon (AMZN) confirmed the firing Monday night, telling CNN Business in a statement that the employee, Christian Smalls, was supposed to be under quarantine.

“Mr. Smalls was found to have had close contact with a diagnosed associate with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and was asked to remain home with pay for 14 days, which is a measure we’re taking at sites around the world,” said Amazon spokesperson Kristen Kish. “Despite that instruction to stay home with pay, he came onsite today, March 30, putting the teams at risk.”

The richest man in the world is going to find a way to use the pandemic to oppress workers further and get richer, isn’t he?

Comments

  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    The richest man in the world is going to find a way to use the pandemic to oppress workers further and get richer, isn’t he?

    They always will, and given the attitudes of both major political parties (i.e one sociopathic greed, the other of spineless cowardice) Bezos will get his way.

  2. says

    From the first linked articel:

    However, Amazon said in a statement to the Advance/SILive.com that Smalls was released of his duties because he violated social distancing guidelines.

    “Mr. Smalls received multiple warnings for violating social distancing guidelines and putting the safety of others at risk. He was also found to have had close contact with a diagnosed associate with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and was asked to remain home with pay for 14 days, which is a measure we’re taking at sites around the world,” said Amazon in a statement.

    “Despite that instruction to stay home with pay, he came onsite today, March 30, further putting the teams at risk. This is unacceptable and we have terminated his employment as a result of these multiple safety issues,”

    Anyone intentionally violating quarantine should have higher penalties than job loss. If Mr. Smalls was really concerned about his co-workers he would stay in quarantine instead of going out and risk spreading the virus to the other workers.

  3. komarov says

    Quarantine violations are not okay, no argument there. But as a cynic I have to wonder if it wasn’t dangerous ideas that were being quarantined, lest they spread to the rest of the workforce.

    The richest man in the world is going to find a way to use the pandemic to oppress workers further and get richer, isn’t he?

    No. No, not at all.

    The richest man in the world undoubtedly employs a team of the finest financial and legal minds to work these things out for him. The man himself is probably mildly pre-occupied (and annoyed) by the negative press – which doesn’t bode well for the other team consisting of the finest minds in marketing and PR.

  4. komarov says

    “The richest man” was a quote from PZ. That’ll teach me to use borkable HTML-tags instead of plain old quotation marks. (It’s all the tags’ fault, naturally)

  5. ajbjasus says

    #5. My cynicism retells me that Amazon are spinning it, but I have no way to tell for sure

  6. lochaber says

    I wonder if other employees who “have had close contact with a diagnosed associate with a confirmed case of COVID-19” were also given 14 days paid sick leave?

  7. unclefrogy says

    what is absolutely clear is that relationship between labor and management at amozon can not in any way be considered to be a cooperative one where the workers are considered a voluble part of the company without which it could not exist. Nor is management considered honorable and considerate of the work force. It has been for some considerable time an antagonistic relationship which has been the normal one in the U.S. for as long as I have been here. regardless of any particulars of this one case.
    uncle frogy

  8. says

    I see this everywhere, everybody is trying to protect both them selves AND their neighbors. Everyone but the rich. And people just might notice it this time. I wonder what happens when enough people see through this bullshit.

  9. christoph says

    I remember a line from a novel I read years ago, “Nothing makes a profit like tyranny.” (One of the “Flux and Anchor” novels by Jack Chalker)

  10. A. Noyd says

    unclefrogy (#14)

    the workers are considered a voluble part of the company

    Ironically, they’re considered even less valuable the more voluble they are.

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