Workers’ groups at Wal-Mart and Amazon, as well as other large retailers, have asked employers to offer paid leave and better protection for everyone affected by the new coronavirus outbreak, Bloomberg reported. The group, called United for Respect, held a media call with U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren on Friday. Warren argues that 80 percent of retail workers are excluded from federal relief programs, which also include paid sick leave. “Grocery and retail workers are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy, and we need to help them,” the former Democratic candidate said.
Monica Moody, a 22-year-old employee at Amazon’s storage center, is in Charlotte, North Carolina. She said she and her colleagues didn’t have enough protective equipment or enough time to wash their hands during shifts. She said the storage center should be temporarily closed for thorough disinfection.
“People may bring illness to work. And they don’t even know they’re infected,” Moody said. “
On Friday, four Democratic senators wrote to Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive, asking the company to implement more aggressive security measures and provide employees with more hazardous work allowances. The letter quoted news reports this week that workers working at the front line of Amazon’s logistics network were concerned that while they had accelerated delivery of packages, they did not have enough time and resources to protect themselves.
“We are writing to you today strongly urging you to put the safety, health and well-being of your employees first, not only for your employees, but also for our constituents, friends, family and neighbors,” the letter reads.
Amazon responded that it had taken “extreme measures to keep people safe.”
“Our employees are heroes who fight for the community and help people stay in the crisis without critical supplies,” the company said in a statement. “
Amazon still pays workers at a storage center in Queens after the site was temporarily shut down after the virus tested positive. Amazon also announced that it will offer two weeks’ compensation to all confirmed or segregated workers. In addition, hourly pay increased by $2 in April.
An Amazon delivery driver group in California says it only got a rag this week to wipe their truck before going to work.
Wal-Mart also said on its website that it had adjusted store opening hours to clean and disinfect stores, as well as a $300 cash grant for full-time employees and $150 in cash for temporary employees.