KEY POINTS

  • Amazon has fired an employee from State Island for leading the protest
  • The company said the terminated worker violated multiple safety guidelines
  • Amazon warehouse workers demanded better protection against coronavirus on site

Amazon has terminated a warehouse worker from Staten Island who orchestrated the strike to demand better protection against coronavirus.

According to a CNBC report, Chris Smalls, who worked as a management assistant, stated that his services were dismissed Monday afternoon.

“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,” Smalls said. He added that he is not “shocked” but “outraged and disappointed.”

An Amazon spokesperson informed CNBC about the suspension of the worker. He stated that Smalls received several warnings for breaking social distancing protocol and refusing to stay in isolation after coming into contact with an employee who had coronavirus.

“Despite that instruction to stay home with pay, he came onsite today, March 30, further putting the teams at risk,” the spokesperson stated. He added that the company has fired him “as a result of these multiple safety issues.”

Amazon, in a statement, called the allegations by workers “unfounded” and maintained that it has followed strict measures to ensure safety on 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 went on.

Meanwhile, New York State Attorney General Letitia James said that the Office of Attorney General is looking at several options against the termination of Smalls.

“In New York, the right to organize is codified into law, and any retaliatory action by management related thereto is strictly prohibited. At a time when so many New Yorkers are struggling and are deeply concerned about their safety, this action was also immoral and inhumane,” James said.

Meanwhile, according to NPR, some Amazon warehouse employees in Staten Island and grocery delivery employees at Instacart nationwide walked off their work on Monday.

The grocery delivery workers at Instacart demanded hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and increase in their pay to compensate for the risk they are taking.

An estimated 50-60 Amazon workers walked out of a New York warehouse to demand that the facility be shut down and cleaned after one staffer tested positive for the coronavirus An estimated 50-60 Amazon workers walked out of a New York warehouse to demand that the facility be shut down and cleaned after one staffer tested positive for the coronavirus Photo: AFP / Angela Weiss