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9 Amazon Workers Describe the Daily Risks They Face in the Pandemic

9 Amazon Workers Describe the Daily Risks They Face in the Pandemic

After this interview was conducted, the driver reported that Whole Foods has instituted more protections for workers, including social distancing meas

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After this interview was conducted, the driver reported that Whole Foods has instituted more protections for workers, including social distancing measures, temperature screenings, and providing gloves.

Warehouse Worker, Early 60s, California

I’ve been with Amazon 11 months now. I went there with the idea that it was just going to be a temporary job until I could find something that was better suited for me. When I first started there, it was a great job, because it’s only part-time, it’s fairly flexible, and it gave me the opportunity to look for other things. I have been going to work through the pandemic, but I am starting to contemplate staying home because of some of the issues at Amazon.

Amazon, at least our facility, hasn’t enforced the policies as much as they could have. One problem we’re encountering is that once we’re on the floor and we’re doing our work, they don’t mandate social distancing. People aren’t staying six feet away. Instead of going around me, workers cut right in front of me, they bump into me. I’ve asked, please, six feet away, but they just ignore me and keep on going. Every time I’ve gone to management, their response is, “There’s nothing we can do about it, if there’s a problem you can just stay home.”

My feeling is they want to do the right thing, but they don’t know how to enforce it, so it’s not really happening. We have no hand sanitizers. We have no wipes. They’re not providing face masks.

My biggest concern is my parents, they’re 82 and 88 and they live close by. I call them every day to make sure they’re okay, but I’m very hesitant to go see them because I don’t know what I might be bringing to them. Especially my father. He’s 88, he’s blind, he’s frail. I don’t want to make him sick. So until this is all done, I can’t come up and see them, because I can’t risk making them sick.

Warehouse Worker, Early 30s, Florida

I previously worked in events and conferences, but when the virus hit, they started cutting my hours, so I applied to work at Amazon. I’ve been there about three weeks, or maybe a month. At my location, I was noticing that they have wipes, but they’re not actually disinfecting wipes. I picked up the can the other day to check, and they’re not. They’re for painters to use to remove paint that drips onto the floor. [An Amazon spokesperson disputes this: “Disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer are already standard across our network, and the procurement teams have worked tirelessly to create new sources of supply to keep these critical items flowing.”]

Amazon is trying to do social distancing. They put markers on the floor, but the thing is, a lot of people are not taking this seriously. If there’s no supervisors on the floor that care, it’s not being enforced. I’ve had to tell people to back off from me a few times.

It’s very scary. I’m a single mom. My mom lives with me, and she doesn’t have any income. She has a lung condition, and she’s older, she’s 72. I try to stay away from them. I haven’t held my six year-old son since I started at Amazon. It’s very hard. He still doesn’t understand it. He’s always mad at me, he says that I’m mean.

I feel like this job is essential because people need deliveries, but it’s also essential for me because I need the money to feed my family. My son’s dad stopped working too, so it’s not like I’m getting child support. I have no choice. But I’m also thinking of stopping because I don’t want to put my family at risk. I’m not the only one thinking of not going to work. Amazon needs to take care of what they have, and I don’t think they’re doing that.

Warehouse Worker, Late 20s, Washington

The first US case of Covid-19 was in Seattle, so I was like, this is really bad news. I was thinking ahead, planning for quarantine and stuff, buying food. As the story got worse, I wondered what Amazon was going to do. I’ve worked there for two years. For me, the pay is good. I know it’s not the best pay in the world, but the benefits and pay work well for me. I’ve become friends with a lot of the people I work with. But now, with all the craziness, and with the recent Covid-19 case at my warehouse, I feel like they’re not doing enough. They’re putting profits over people right now, that’s what I want to express.

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